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Exxon earns $1.01 a share, vs 89 cents expected

Exxon Mobil earnings and revenue topped analysts' expectations on Friday, but profit fell 47 percent as low crude prices sapped profits.

Crude prices have fallen more than 50 percent from last year's high over $100 a barrel. While the crude decline hurt Exxon's largest oil and gas business, it also boosted profit margins in refining by lowering feedstock costs.

"Quarterly results reflect the continued strength of our downstream and chemical businesses and underscore the benefits of our integrated business model," Exxon Chief Executive Officer Rex Tillerson said in a statement.

The Irving, Texas, company posted profit of $4.24 billion, or $1.01 per share, compared with $8.07 billion, or $1.89 per share in the same quarter a year earlier.

Analysts on average had expected a profit of 89 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Refining profits nearly doubled from a year-earlier to $2 billion in the third quarter, while earnings at Exxon's exploration and production business fell $5.1 billion to $1.4 billion.

Oil and gas output increased 2.3 percent from a year earlier to 3.9 million oil-equivalent barrels per day (mboed).

Shares of Exxon rose slightly in late morning trading. (Get the latest quote here.)

Separately, Chevron on Friday announced plans to cut its workforce by 6,000 to 7,000.

Both Exxon and Chevron have been hit badly by lower oil prices and worries about slowing growth in China.

Exxon stock has fallen roughly 14 percent in the past 12 months. That coincides with a drop of about 45 percent in oil prices over the last year. Chevron shares are down almost 23 percent over the year.

Raymond James energy analyst Pavel Molchanov told CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" he thinks Chevron is a better buy between the two stocks.

"To play the down cycle, Exxon was a better trade because it's more defensive, more chemicals, more refining," Molchanov said Friday. "To play a recovery in oil, even if it's a modest recovery, Chevron will give you that extra data, that extra leverage to an oil recovery."

Earlier this year, Exxon announced it would cut its 2015 capital expenditures by about $4.5 billion to $34 billion. Molchanov said he expects to see a very steep reduction in spending at Chevron next year, as well.

"Every day now we are getting reminders of how this industry is in austerity mode for a second straight year," he said.

Molchanov added that oil and gas companies will most likely be cutting capital expenditures by at least 15 to 25 percent for 2016.

—Reuters contributed to this report.