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ExxonMobil earnings hit by weak margins

Washington, May 2, 2014

ExxonMobil reported slightly lower profits yesterday as weak refining margins offset the benefit of higher natural gas prices in the US that boosted earnings from petroleum production.

Earnings for the first quarter came in 4.2 per cent lower from the year-ago period at $9.1 billion. Exxon, the biggest US oil company, again reported lower petroleum output, this time notching a decline of 5.6per cent from a year ago.

However, exploration and production earnings still grew by 10.6per cent, thanks in part to a 49per cent rise in US natural gas prices in the wake of cold winter weather in much of the US.

Exxon officials have emphasised that they will not sacrifice solid profit margins to keep production high.

Analysts have been disappointed in how the slow ramp-up of many priority projects has meant lagging output.

Earnings in the downstream portion of the business, which covers refining and selling of petrol, tumbled 47.3per cent from a year ago. Chemical earnings also fell by a smaller percentage.

"ExxonMobil's first-quarter earnings and cash flow reflect its continuing focus on delivering profitable growth and creating long-term shareholder value," said chief executive Rex Tillerson.

"Strong performance in the upstream benefited from improved production mix and increased unit profitability," he added.

Exxon's results translated into $2.10 per share, above the $1.88 forecast by Wall Street analysts.

Revenues of $106.8 billion lagged forecasts of $109.8 billion.-Reuters

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