Exxon Earnings Jump 55% to $7.4 Billion

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ExxonOil giant ExxonMobil (XOM) said its third-quarter earnings rose 55% due to higher crude oil and natural gas realizations, improved refining margins, and solid chemical results. Petroleum and chemical product sales were higher than last year's third quarter, mainly reflecting higher demand.

"Despite continuing economic uncertainty, we had strong quarterly results and continued to advance our robust investment opportunities," the world's largest publicly traded company said in a statement.

Over the last three months, Exxon said it earned $7.35 billion, or $1.44 per share, up from $4.73 billion, or 98 cents in the third quarter of last year. Sales rose nearly 18% to $95.3 billion from $82.26 billion last year. While the earnings results topped analyst estimates of $1.39 per share, revenue fell short of the of the $98.11 analysts were expecting.

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Upstream earnings were $5.47 billion, up 36% from the third quarter of 2009. Higher crude oil and natural gas realizations increased earnings by $1 billion, while higher liquids and gas volumes improved earnings by $270 million. Oil-equivalent production was over 20% higher than the third quarter of 2009, driven by assets in Qatar and a recent unconventional gas acquisition, Exxon said.

Downstream earnings of $1.16 billion were up $835 million from the third quarter of 2009. Higher industry refining margins were partly offset by lower marketing margins. Volume and product mix effects also increased earnings, as well as other factors, mainly asset sales and favorable foreign exchange impacts.

Exxon said it returned over $5 billion to shareholders in the third quarter through dividends, which were increased by 5% to 44 cents per share, and $3 billion in share purchases to reduce shares outstanding.

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