Exxon third-quarter profit falls 47 percent but beats expectations

Fri Oct 30, 2015 12:34pm EDT
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By Anna Driver

(Reuters) - Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N: Quote) said on Friday third-quarter profit fell 47 percent on low crude prices but results were better than expected, helped by higher profit in the oil company's refining business.

Crude prices have fallen more than 50 percent from last year's high above $100 a barrel. While the crude decline hurt Exxon's largest oil and gas business, it also boosted profit margins in refining by lowering feedstock costs.

"International refining was the surprise that was greater-than-anticipated," said Brian Youngberg, senior oil analyst at Edward Jones. "Refining is the sweet spot for the integrateds this quarter. It reflects their scale and breadth of operations."

To weather the downturn, many of Exxon's peers, including U.S. rival Chevron Corp (CVX.N: Quote), are slashing jobs and capital spending.

But the world's largest publicly traded oil company is so far keeping its budget forecast intact and plans no restructuring charges, Jeff Woodbury, Exxon's head of investor relations, told analysts on a conference call.

In 2015, Exxon expects to spend $34 billion, and less than that in the next two years. Still, Woodbury said spending so far this year is tracking lower than planned, so it is reasonable to conclude that the final number will come in below that forecast, he said.

The company will issue its latest capital plan in March, Woodbury said.

The Irving, Texas, company posted profit of $4.24 billion, or $1.01 per share, compared with $8.07 billion, or $1.89 per share in the same quarter a year earlier.   Continued...

A Exxon Mobil gas station is seen in Encinitas, California October 28, 2014.  REUTERS/Mike Blake