Home Business ExxonMobil’s record-breaking $20bn profit nearly matches Apple’s

ExxonMobil’s record-breaking $20bn profit nearly matches Apple’s

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ExxonMobil’s record-breaking $20bn profit nearly matches Apple’s

The US oil supermajor ExxonMobil has reported a quarterly profit of nearly $20bn (£17.3bn), $4bn more than analysts had forecast, almost matching the earnings of the tech giant Apple.

Exxon’s $19.7bn profit for the third quarter outstripped the record $17.9bn it reported for the previous quarter, as it became the latest fossil fuel producer to enjoy soaring earnings, a day after Shell announced global profits of $9.5bn between July and September.

The results came as another US oil company, Chevron, reported a quarterly profit of $11.2bn, its second-highest ever, as it also stormed past analysts’ estimates. This was slightly lower than the previous quarter, but almost double the $6.1bn profit the company made during the same period a year earlier.

Together the two largest US oil companies have earned more than $30bn in three months.

Oil companies have raked in record profits in recent months, thanks to the surge in the price of oil and natural gas after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February, causing soaring energy bills for consumers and businesses.

Western sanctions on Moscow have pushed global economies to look elsewhere for their energy, and US exports of gas and oil to Europe have jumped, setting oil companies on the path to record high earnings.

The French oil group TotalEnergies reported third-quarter profits of nearly $10bn on Thursday, almost double the amount for the same period a year earlier.

ExxonMobil’s profit between July and September brought it within touching distance of the $20.7bn earned by Apple over the same period.

The oil company said its profits, double those made by Shell during the same period, were the result of “strong volume performance, including record refining volumes, rigorous cost control and higher natural gas realisations”. It said this more than offset lower crude oil prices and weaker industry refining margins.

Oil prices have fallen from their highs of $120 a barrel of Brent crude in June to about $96, while natural gas prices have dropped to about 70% lower than their peak in late August.

Exxon’s chief financial officer, Kathryn Mikells, said: “Our investments over the past five years, including through the lows of the pandemic, are really driving our results today.”

The company made $43bn during the first nine months of the year, 19% more than during the same period in 2008, when oil was trading at record levels of about $140 a barrel.

High energy prices have also attracted political attention. Joe Biden said in June: “We’re going to make sure everybody knows Exxon’s profits.” He added: “Exxon made more money than God this year.”

Chevron’s chief executive, Michael Wirth, hailed “another quarter of strong financial performance”, in a statement to investors. He noted that its oil and gas production at the top US shale field reached “another quarterly record”.

The company said it had paid out dividends of $2.7bn to investors during the quarter, which was 6% higher than during the same period a year earlier.

Chevron said it had increased investment during the past three months, and was focusing on its “traditional and new energy businesses to help meet the world’s growing demand”.

Meanwhile, Exxon’s record profits were helped by its much-criticised decision to pin its future hopes on fossil fuels, even at a time when its European competitors have shifted their attention to more renewables.

The company said it had spent $5.7bn on new oil and gas projects over the past quarter, a 24% increase on a year earlier, and it remained on track to hit its investment target of between $21bn and $24bn this year.

Both Exxon and Chevron’s shares continued to climb during morning trading on Friday after releasing their results.

Rising profits at oil companies have led to renewed calls on both sides of the Atlantic for the businesses to invest their soaring profits instead of buying back shares.

Shell’s confirmation on Thursday that it had not paid the UK’s windfall tax, despite making record global profits, also prompted calls for a rethink of the levy, which was intended to raise billions to help with the cost of living crisis.

The discussion is likely to be reignited when BP reports its third-quarter earnings on Tuesday next week.

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