Exxon's Quarterly Profit Edges Up as Energy Production Slumps

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Exxon Mobil said on Thursday its quarterly profit edged up, helped by higher earnings in its chemicals business but oil and gas production fell.

Earnings a share topped Wall Street expectations but the gains largely came after a big stock buyback that reduced the number of outstanding shares by 5 percent.

"Their reliance on share buybacks mutes the earnings a share beat," said Brian Youngberg, energy company analyst at Edward Jones in St. Louis. "I'd rather see them give the cash to shareholders in the form of a dividend increase."
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First-quarter profit for the world's largest publicly traded oil company totaled $9.5 billion, or $2.12 a share, compared with $9.45 billion, or $2 a share, a year earlier.

Analysts, on average, expected the Irving, Texas, company to report a profit of $2.05 a share.

Total oil and natural gas production declined 3.5 percent to 4.395 million barrels oil equivalent a day from the same quarter a year ago.

Profit in Exxon's exploration and production unit fell about 10 percent to $7 billion, but low natural gas prices in North American led to an 62 percent increase in profit in its chemicals business.

Shares of Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) fell 0.6 percent to $88.91 in premarket trade.

(Updated at 9:32 a.m. ET)



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