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Exxon, Chevron Earnings Soar on Record Oil Prices

ExxonMobil, the world's largest non-government-controlled oil company, on Friday posted the highest-ever quarterly and yearly profits by a U.S. company, propelled by record oil prices.

Chevron, the second-largest U.S. oil company, said its fourth-quarter earnings rose 30 percent as the soaring crude prices outweighed relatively weak refining profits.

Exxon's net income in the quarter rose nearly 14 percent to $11.66 billion, or $2.13 a share, from $10.25 billion, or $1.76 a share, in 2006. Analysts, on average, were expecting earnings of $1.98 per share.

"They performed across the board, upstream, downstream, U.S. and foreign," said James Halloran, who helps manage about $35 billion at National City Private Client Group.

Revenue in the quarter rose to $116.64 billion from $90.03 billion in 2006.

The company's quarterly result as well as its full-year earnings of $40.61 billion set new records for U.S. profits, beating out previous marks also set by Exxon.

Oil prices averaged more than $90 a barrel during the quarter and nearly hit $100 due to tight supplies, geopolitical risks and the weak dollar. They averaged just over $60 a barrel in the same period a year earlier.

"The only negative thing I see going forward is production, they just can't grow production," said Chris MacDonald, a portfolio manager with WHG Funds in Dallas.

"If they are spending $21 billion a year on CapEx and they can't grow production, with their technology ... it does not bode well for the industry in general."

The company's quarterly production rose 1 percent in the quarter as increased volume from projects in Qatar and the North Sea offset OPEC quota effects, production sharing agreements and lost oil from assets that were taken over by Venezuela.

Chevron Tops Estimates

Chevron's net income rose to $4.88 billion, or $2.32 a share, from $3.77 billion, or $1.74 a share, last year.

Analysts on average had expected the company to earn $2.30 a share, according to Reuters Estimates.

Sales in the quarter rose to $59.9 billion from $46.24 billion last year.

Chevron's earnings for its exploration and production segment rose 66 percent to $4.84 billion but profit from its refining, marketing and transportation business were off nearly 79 percent to $204 million.

Profit margins from refining were relatively weak in the quarter as gasoline prices failed to keep pace with oil prices that soared to record levels.

The San Ramon, California, company said its production fell about 1.6 percent to 2.61 million barrels of oil equivalent per day.

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