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ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM) reported on Friday earnings for the fourth quarter easily beating forecasts thanks to production growth, signaling that the Q4 oil price drop didn’t erode Big Oil’s profits as much as the market had feared.
Exxon booked Q4 earnings of US$6 billion, down from US$8.4 billion in the fourth quarter of 2017. Yet, earnings per share assuming dilution came in at US$1.41, nearly a third above the analyst consensus estimate of US$1.08 of The Wall Street Journal.
Exxon’s liquids production in the fourth quarter rose by 4 percent from prior-year quarter, driven by growth in the Permian. Oil-equivalent production was 4.010 million bpd in Q4, exceeding 4 million bpd for the first time in nearly two years.
A major growth driver of production came from the Permian, where Exxon plans to triple its production by 2025 to more than 600,000 oil-equivalent barrels.
Exxon’s unconventional production in the Permian continued to ramp up in the fourth quarter, the supermajor said, noting that production surged by more than 90 percent from the same quarter of 2017.
In Q4, crude prices weakened, while natural gas prices strengthened with higher seasonal demand and increased liquefied natural gas (LNG) prices, Exxon said. Refining and chemical margins weakened in the fourth quarter.
Despite weaker margins in the downstream and the drop in oil prices in Q4, Exxon’s full-year 2018 cash flow from operating activities jumped to US$36 billion from US$30 billion for 2017. The 2018 cash flow from operations was the highest since 2014, the company said.
In the fourth quarter, cash flow from operating activities rose to US$8.607 billion from US$7.411 billion for the fourth quarter of 2017.
“Strong results during a period of commodity price volatility demonstrate ExxonMobil’s ability to deliver superior cash flow in different market environments,” Darren W. Woods, chairman and chief executive officer, said.
Following the results release, Exxon’s shares were up 2 percent in pre-market trade.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.