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Exxon beats earnings expectations even as lower oil prices weigh on profits

Exxon Mobil’s latest quarterly earnings surpassed Wall Street’s expectations, although the company faced a significant decline in profit compared to the same period the previous year due to weakened oil prices. The company announced a dividend of 95 cents per share for the first quarter, payable on March 11, and returned a total of $32.4 billion to shareholders in 2023 through a combination of $14.9 billion in dividends and $17.4 billion in share buybacks.

In the fourth quarter, Exxon reported net income of $7.63 billion, or $1.91 per share, marking a 40% decline from the $12.75 billion, or $3.09 per share, reported in the corresponding quarter of 2022. Profits were impacted by a $2 billion impairment charge in California related to regulatory issues. Excluding these charges, Exxon’s adjusted earnings per share were $2.48, exceeding Wall Street’s expectations of $2.21 per share.

The year 2023 saw volatility in crude oil prices, with West Texas Intermediate and Brent experiencing a more than 10% decline for the year. Exxon CEO Darren Woods highlighted the company’s earnings power, stating, “If you take the market out of it, you take prices and margins out and just look at it on an apples-to-apples basis, we’ve more than doubled our earnings power from 2019 to 2023.”

Exxon’s stock saw a roughly 1% increase in premarket trading following the earnings report. Despite reaching a 2023 closing high in September, the company’s shares concluded the year 16% lower as crude oil prices retreated. Exxon’s profits from its oil and gas segment decreased to $4.1 billion in the quarter, a 49% decline compared to the same period in the previous year. The energy products segment also reported a decline in profits to $3.2 billion, down 21% year-over-year.

Exxon produced 3.73 million oil equivalent barrels per day in 2023, with production in the Permian Basin and Guyana increasing by 18% over 2022. The company’s acquisition of shale rival Pioneer Natural Resources, in a $60 billion all-stock transaction, is expected to close in the first half of this year.

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