ExxonMobil Corp.'s Chairman Lee Raymond assured shareholders Wednesday that they should not expect "radical restructuring" at the world's largest company, only "boringly consistent results" going forward.
Raymond and his management team outlined the energy giant's plans through 2006 at an investor analyst conference in New York City. Oil and natural gas production are expected to average 3% growth worldwide for the next few years, and capital spending also will edge up slightly, to a range of $15-16 billion this year from $14.9 billion in 2004, and to $16-17 billion in 2007. Exxon also expects to deliver $1 billion in cost reductions this year, even with rising raw material and oilfield service costs.
"I will remind you that we take a long-term perspective," Raymond said. "First, we will not do anything stupid. Secondly, don't expect us to take mechanistic or knee-jerk reactions. We will continue to take a patient and disciplined approach to how we manage cash and our financial position to grow long-term shareholder value."
Exxon recently overtook General Electric Co. as the world's largest company, and analysts and shareholders have wondered how the major plans to spend some of its growing cash. However, Raymond tempered enthusiasm to branch out or expand in new areas as oil and natural gas prices continue to rise. He said the company has no plans to radically change its current structure, and will continue to balance cash distributions to shareholders through "a combination of dividends and share purchases with current and anticipated investment opportunities to create a long-term growth in shareholder value."
"Our industry is driven by long-term trends," Raymond said. "Seeing past the market noise and understanding long-term market trends is one of the hallmarks of ExxonMobil's approach. Our portfolio of assets captures the full value of market cycles across different businesses, economies and regions."
Even though the energy industry is evolving, Raymond noted that ExxonMobil has a strong track record of anticipating change. "We work hard to ensure that our differentiating capability is ready as opportunities mature. Technology increasingly differentiates ExxonMobil, as do our competitively advantaged integrated operating facilities. So while we acknowledge that the playing field is changing, these changes actually play to ExxonMobil's strengths."
He also cited Exxon's long-term focus as critical to the company's continuing operational and financial performance, which sets the company apart from its competitors. "Some companies talk about their business in much shorter time frames than we do."
Last year, the Irving, TX-based major delivered solid -- and record -- results across the board. Net corporate income was a record $25.3 billion, and all business segments reported record earnings. Return on capital employed was 24%, and cash flow from operations and asset sales was more than $43 billion.
"We have an industry-leading resource base of 73 billion oil-equivalent barrels and the financial strength to pursue all opportunities that satisfy our rigorous criteria," said Raymond. "Our global functional organization allows us to better leverage our scale, and we enjoy enormous competitive advantage by maintaining the strongest suite of proprietary technologies in the industry."
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