Exxon Mobil posts earnings of 67 cents a share vs 63 cents estimate

Exxon Mobil reported a steep drop in as low oil prices hurt results at the world’s largest publicly traded oil company.

The company posted fourth quarter earnings of 67 cents a share, compared with $1.32 a share in the year-earlier period.

Revenue for the quarter came in at $59.81 billion, against the year-earlier figure of $87.28 billion.

Analysts had expected the company to report earnings of about 63 cents a share on $51.36 billion in revenue, according to a consensus estimate from Thomson Reuters.

The oil giant also reported fourth quarter U.S. downstream revenue of $435 million, but an upstream loss of $538 million. Its oil and gas output rose 4.8 percent in the fourth quarter.

Exxon shares were down 2 percent in premarket trading following the announcement. (Get the latest quote here.)

Roger Read, oil analyst at Wells Fargo Securities, attributed the share decline to a lack of information on operating cost reductions and capital spending in Exxon’s earnings announcement.

“If you look across the broad [exploration and production] space, that’s been the focus of investors,” he told CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”“How much are you cutting your spending, what are you going to do to maintain the strength of your balance sheet, and where is production going?”

“You didn’t really get any of that with this press release,” he said, noting that Exxon typically delivers that data at its analyst meeting in March.

Exxon Mobil was under fire recently for declining to share U.S. tax information, a move that the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative said was inhibiting American progress in energy transparency.

Raymond James senior energy analyst Pavel Molchanov, who has an underperform rating on the stock, told CNBC’s “Power Lunch” that Exxon has been one of the most defensive names in the beaten down energy sector.

“It has been the best performer on the downside, and it is probably going to be the weakest performer to play the recovery. To play the recovery, Exxon is probably the last oil stock you want,” Molchanov added.

Exxon was overtaken by Facebook as the fourth largest company in the S&P 500, after the social media giant hit $115 per share, an all-time high, on Monday morning. Facebook’s market cap was $327.6 billion versus Exxon’s $317.6 billion at the close on Monday.

— Reuters and CNBC’s Christine Wang and Tom DiChristopher contributed to this report.

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