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Look what lower oil prices do to company profits

A number of companies came out with strong earnings this morning, and look what lower oil prices do to company profits.

Want to see what lower oil prices do to an oil company's profits? Occidental Petroleum reported earnings down 21 percent from the same period a year ago, although earnings per share of $1.55 were roughly in line with expectations of $1.57. Revenue was down 7 percent, even though average daily production was up.

Want to see what lower oil prices do to an airline company's profits? United Continental's quarterly profit surged about 82 percent. That's right, 82 percent. Earnings on a per share basis were $2.75 for the quarter, compared with $1.51 for the same period last year. Fuel costs are 20 percent to 30 percent of an airline's cost. Some of the profit growth is obviously due to constrained capacity, but you get the point.

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The same goes for American Airlines: $1.04 per share for the same period last year compared with $1.66 this quarter.

Want to see what a strong energy industry can do to a company's earnings? Caterpillar reported blowout earnings of $1.72 per share for the third quarter, well above estimates of $1.36. How did a company of Caterpillar's size beat by 36 cents? Almost all of the beat—25 cents worth—came in the energy and transportation segment. That's the segment that sells equipment to the oil and gas business. Construction accounted for another 6 cents.

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Want to see what geopolitical disruptions do to an oil driller? Look at Weatherford. The company reported earnings of 32 cents per share, well below expectations of 42 cents. That's because they are very big as drillers and oil service providers in Northern Iraq and Libya, and because of disruptions, revenue, and operating income were down.

Elsewhere, PulteGroup reported earnings roughly in line, 37 cents versus consensus estimates of 36 cents. However, orders were flat year over year. That is a disappointment.

Though the numbers were disappointing, average selling price was up 8 percent. The home builder raised its dividend by 60 percent to eight cents per share, and approved an increase in the share repurchase program.

  • Bob Pisani

    A CNBC reporter since 1990, Bob Pisani covers Wall Street from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

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