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Exxon Q4 Beats Forecast But Slides
On Low Crude Oil Price

Reuters
IRVING — Exxon Corp., the world's largest traded oil company in terms of market value, said on Thursday fourth quarter net income fell 39 percent to $1.53 billion from $2.5 billion as global crude oil prices slumped 40 percent.

Excluding the effect of a one time credit in the 1997 quarter, net income fell $655 million, or 30 percent, and diluted net income per share fell to $0.63 from $0.89, or $1.00 including the year-ago credit.

Wall Street analysts surveyed by First Call Corp. had estimated fourth quarter at 57 cents per share.

A large drop in both domestic and foreign upstream earnings for the quarter was offset by a smaller than expected drop in U.S. refining and marketing, where earnings fell just $35 million to $157 million despite razor thin refinery margins. U.S. oil and gas earnings fell to $214 million from $419 million while overseas earnings fell to $415 million from $790 million as crude oil prices clung persistently to 12 year lows. Also supportive was the overseas downstream segment, where despite Asia's economic woes, earnings rose $41 million to $487 million.

Exxon said that revenues in the fourth quarter sank to $29.663 billion from $35.062 billion as oil prices fell $7.50 per barrel from a year ago to their lowest levels in real terms since 1972-73.

For the full year, Exxon's earnings diluted per share fell to $2.61 from $3.41 and net income dropped to $6.37 billion from $8.46 billion and revenues fell to $117.488 billion from $137.242 billion.

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