Exxon Mobil shares slide nearly 6% as oil giant's fourth-quarter earnings fall short

Key Points
  • Exxon Mobil reports fourth-quarter earnings that fall far short of expectations.
Getty Images

Exxon Mobil on Friday reported adjusted quarterly profits that fell far short of Wall Street estimates, though the oil giant posted its strongest annual earnings since 2014.

Shares of Exxon plunged about $5 a share, or nearly 6 percent, to below $84.

The Irving, Texas-based company reported fourth-quarter earnings of 88 cents a share, excluding the impacts of U.S. tax reform and impairments. Analysts had expected earnings of $1.04 a share.

"The impact of tax reform on our earnings reflects the magnitude of our historic investment in the U.S. and strengthens our commitment to further grow our business here," Chairman and CEO Darren Woods said in a statement.

"We're planning to invest over $50 billion in the U.S. over the next five years to increase production of profitable volumes and enhance our integrated portfolio, which is supported by the improved business climate created by tax reform."

The company saw corporate and financing expenses rise by $3 billion, mostly due to "unfavorable impacts" of $2.1 billion from U.S. tax reform.

Exxon's revenues came in at $66.52 billion, also missing estimates for $74.31 billion in sales.

For the full year, Exxon reported profits of $19.71 billion, its highest annual earnings since the start of an oil price slide in 2014, when it earned $32.52 billion.

Cash flow from operations — a key metric of financial health in the oil industry — came in at $7.4 billion for the quarter, matching the year-earlier period.

Earnings from Exxon's upstream segment, which explores for and produces oil and natural gas, rose $9 billion from a year earlier. Production of fossil fuels was down about 130,000 barrels a day during the period.

Excluding the benefits of U.S. tax reform, Exxon's upstream business in the United States lost $60 million.

Fourth-quarter profits in Exxon's downstream sector, which is focused on refining crude oil into fuels like gasoline, also rose $323 million from a year earlier.

The chemicals business earned $1.3 billion, up $398 million from a year earlier.

Exxon Mobil on Wednesday announced it would leave its quarterly dividend unchanged at 77 cents per share.