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Exxon profits drop less than expected

An Exxon station in the Foggy Bottom neighbourhood of Washingon, DC, on February 19, 2013
An Exxon station in the Foggy Bottom neighbourhood of Washingon, DC, on February 19, 2013

US oil giant ExxonMobil reported an 18 percent decline in quarterly profits Thursday due to weaker refining earnings, but results bested expectations as oil and gas output stabilized.

Exxon, the largest US oil company, said third-quarter profits were $7.9 billion on revenues of $112.4 billion, down from $9.6 billion on revenues of $115.1 billion in the year-ago period.

Those results translated into earnings per share of $1.79, two cents above analyst estimates. Revenues bested expectations by about $5 billion.

Like other oil majors, such as Anglo-Dutch heavyweight Royal Dutch Shell, ExxonMobil was hit by weaker profit margins in the refining business.

A sign shows gas prices over five dollars a gallon for all three grades at an Exxon service station on March 13, 2012 in Washington, DC
A sign shows gas prices over five dollars a gallon for all three grades at an Exxon service station on March 13, 2012 in Washington, DC

Results for the segment nosedived to $592 million from $3.2 billion in the year-ago quarter.

However, ExxonMobil's oil and gas output registered a 1.5 percent increase thanks in part to project ramp-ups in Canada and Nigeria.

ExxonMobil has seen declines in production in recent quarters, dipping 1.9 percent in the second quarter and 3.5 percent in the prior quarter.

Results in the upstream division, which comprises exploration and production activities, rose $740 million to $6.7 billion.

"ExxonMobil's third quarter results reflect our continued progress across a diverse set of profitable growth opportunities, which positions us well to deliver shareholder value," said chief executive Rex Tillerson.

ExxonMobil shares were up 0.8 percent in pre-market trading.

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