Friday, May 2, 2008

Record Profits Continue

Exxon Mobil Corp., the world’s largest publicly traded oil company, said Thursday record crude prices helped its first-quarter profit climb 17 percent to $10.9 billion — the second biggest U.S. quarterly corporate profit ever.

But even at $10.9 billion, the profit ranks as the second biggest for a U.S. company — the only bigger result in a three-month period was the $11.7 billion Exxon Mobil posted in the final three months of 2007.

Meanwhile, gasoline prices also are reaching new highs — and creating financial stress for many Americans. The national average price of a gallon of regular gas rose past $3.60 Wednesday.

Already, record crude prices have produced bountiful first-quarter profits for several of the other major oil companies, despite higher costs and lower results from refining.

BP PLC and Royal Dutch Shell PLC, Europe’s two biggest oil producers, posted combined profits of $17 billion earlier this week — $9.08 billion for Shell, $7.6 billion for BP.

BP’s earnings surged 63 percent from a year ago; Shell’s rose 25 percent.

Last week, ConocoPhillips reported a 16 percent rise in net income to $4.14 billion. Like BP and Shell, the third biggest U.S. oil outfit far outpaced industry expectations.

Coming off four straight years of record earnings, Chevron Corp. cashed in on soaring oil prices to begin 2008 with the most profitable first quarter in its history. The San Ramon-based company said Friday that it earned $5.17 billion.

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