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Exxon Mobil Tops 4Q Earnings Estimates with $10.7 Billion; NatGas Production Down

Exxon Mobil Corp. finished off 2005 with fourth quarter earnings of $10.7 billion ($1.71/share) contributing to a record $36 billion for the year, the company reported Monday. Earnings per share (EPS), excluding a $390 million special item, were $1.65 for the quarter, above the $1.44 EPS expected by analysts.

Exxon Mobil's fourth quarter 2005 earnings were about $2 billion above the $8.42 billion, or $1.30 a share, for 4Q2004. The $36.13 billion, or $5.71 a share for the year, compared with net income of $25.33 billion, or $3.89 a share, for 2004. Excluding special items, the company would have earned $33.86 billion, or $5.35 a share. Analysts' consensus were for $5.14 a share.

More than $36 billion in profit in 2005 was a record for Exxon Mobil, and it was the largest for a U.S. company in history, according to Howard Silverblatt, a stock analyst at Standard & Poor's, who was quoted in The Wall Street Journal.

Production gains did not match those of earnings. On an oil-equivalent basis overall worldwide production was down almost 1% in the fourth quarter from 4Q2004. Fourth quarter natural gas production worldwide stood at about 9.8 Bcf/d, down about 6% from the 10.4 Bcf/d produced in the fourth quarter of 2004.

North American gas production in 4Q2005 was 2.5 Bcf/d, with 1.6 Bcf/d in the United States and 913 MMcf/d in Canada. That was down from 2.8 Bcf/d from the same quarter in 2004 with 1.8 Bcf/d in the U.S. and 951 MMcf/d in Canada.

Estimating yearly production from the daily production statistics supplied by Exxon Mobil, the company's U.S. natural gas production in 2005 was 576.4 Bcf with another 336.2 Bcf produced in Canada. That was down 19% in the U.S. from a 2004 total of 710.7 Bcf and down 5% in Canada from 354.8 Bcf.

The higher earnings reflected higher crude oil and natural gas realizations and improved refining and marketing margins.

"Exxon Mobil continued its active investment program in the fourth quarter, spending $5.3 billion on capital and exploration projects, bringing full year spending to $17.7 billion, an increase of 19% or $2.8 billion versus 2004," new Chairman Rex W. Tillerson said.

"There is a great deal of public interest in global energy prices," he added. "We recognize that consumers worldwide want and need reliable supplies of affordable energy -- to fuel their vehicles, light and heat their homes and run their businesses. Our strong financial results will continue to allow us to make significant, long-term investments required to do our part in meeting the world's energy needs."

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