Exxon Mobil reported quarterly earnings and revenue that topped market expectations on Thursday, lifted by chemical product sales that allowed the company to counterbalance a decline in oil — its traditional strength.
The world's most valuable company as measured by market capitalization saw oil production fall by 3.5 percent during the first quarter, amid volatile global oil markets. However, Exxon ramped up capital on exploration during the quarter, to $11.8 billion — up 33 percent from the comparable year-ago period.
During the quarter, Exxon saw its performance boosted by its refinery and chemicals businesses. The increase in profitability helped the company to distribute $7.6 billion worth of dividends to shareholders. Yet Exxon's earnings beat was based largely on a buyback that cut the amount of shares outstanding by five percent.
"In a situation where oil is going to be relatively flat over the course of this year, we think it represents kind of an expensive stock in people's portfolios," said Fadel Gheit, an oil and gas analyst at Citibank, to CNBC.