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Exxon Earnings Drop 11%; Lower Crude Prices Cited

From Reuters

Exxon Corp., the nation’s largest oil company, said today that its fourth-quarter earnings fell 11% to $1.38 billion from the previous year, due to lower crude oil prices.

The company said earnings from its crude oil exploration and production operations, which had been weak throughout the year, “continued to fall in October and November before partially recovering in December.”

However, analysts said the earnings were in line with their expectations and Exxon’s stock was trading at 45 1/2, up 3/4 at around 1:20 p.m. EST.

“The earnings were pretty much in line,” said George Friesen, analyst with Dean Witter Reynolds. “There were very few surprises.”

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“The earnings were quite good. They came in just above the estimates,” said Paul Mlotok, industry analyst with Salomon Bros.

Exxon said it earned $1.38 billion on sales of $22.02 billion in the fourth quarter, down from $1.55 billion and $21.80 billion in the year-ago period. For the year, it earned $5.26 billion on sales of $87.54 billion, compared with $4.84 billion and $83.33 billion.

“Earnings in exploration and producing were down from last year but refining and marketing were up strongly,” Mlotok said. “And of course chemicals did well, as they have all year.”

Exxon said it earned $504 million from its exploration and production operations in the fourth quarter, down sharply from the $989 million earned in the 1987 period.

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