• Jan 30, 2009
Another year, another record profit statement from Exxon Mobil, the world's largest publicly traded oil company. The specific mind-numbingly large figure is $45.2 billion, which translates to $8.69 per share. While this figure handily beats the previous record of $40.6 billion that had been set by Exxon Mobil in 2007, these huge profits were recorded mostly in the second and third quarters of 2008 when fuel prices were at record levels in much of the world. Fourth quarter earnings fell by 27%, though it's tough to feel too sorry for a company that still made $84.7 billion in the down economy.

Chevron, second only to Exxon Mobil in size, managed to post a $43 billion profit in 2008, but other smaller oil companies haven't been quite as successful in navigating the sinking global economy. Royal Dutch Shell, Europe's largest oil company, posted its first quarterly loss in a decade after seeing huge profits earlier in the year. The coming year should prove to be a similar challenge for each of the oil producing companies.

[Source: AP via Google | Photo by David McNew/Getty]


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  • 95 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Isn't it amazing what happens when the President and the Vice President are both "Oil Men". Just think what would have happened if they were Detroit Auto Men or if the were Mortgage Banker Men or perhaps New Housing Construction Men!
        • 5 Years Ago
        Or corrupt career politician men.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Jake: Jerry covered that with his "oil men" comment. (ex) V.P. Dicky C also doubled up , rewarding no-bid war contracts to "friends".
      • 5 Years Ago
      My reaction is: put these guys in charge of the stimulus package instead the incompentents and crooks like Chris Dodd, Nancy Pelosi, and Barak Obama rail-roading it through right now.

      But, we could just pop off about how evil they are for being successful providing a product that is high demand at a very cheap cost.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I don't mind companies making money but it would be nice if we would stop subsidizing oil since oil companies are making record profits.

      http://www.triplepundit.com/pages/us-oil-subsidie.php


      They could also use some of their profits to pay for the Valdez oil spill they caused but never paid to clean up. 20 years after the oil spill the waters still have 26,600 gallons of oil.

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2007/feb/02/oil.pollution

      • 5 Years Ago
      Inject money into the auto companies - are you nuts? They could simply BUY them outright, for pennies on the dollar compared to prices just 2+ years ago.

      For example, GM's market cap is ~$2B today. Exxon could take LESS than 5% of their 2008 profits and nearly buy GM outright. They'd still have $40B+ in profit set aside for internal executive and commodity market-maker bonuses...
      • 5 Years Ago
      I agree with Sea Urchin, wake up early in the morning, I live in the city and I took bus and subway to work, I know a boss who own a bus company he live very far in Upstate New York and he own a Range Rover but he took the train and bus everyday. Just because you have money you have the right to be irresponsible. BTW I realized those rich people become rich because they know where to save money not just earn money.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Not everyone lives in big cities. Not everyone lives in the sticks either, but my point is you lose your argument when you said subway.

        How many big cities have subways? Elevated trains?? Now lets add medium sized cities (which out number the big ones). How many subways?

        America is auto dependent & thats been the trend since the 1950's. It sped up faster in the late 1960's when the suburbs boomed as people moved away from the big cities (for a number of reasons...)
      • 5 Years Ago

      Maybe Exxon should buy a large stake in GM.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Hey guys, who can spot the guerilla marketers in this newspiece?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Well phez... you're not coming back to give us the answer?
        • 5 Years Ago
        The makers of the school bus? The Econo-line Ford van?? I give up, who are they???
        • 5 Years Ago
        Is it right above me?
      • 5 Years Ago
      I'm with the first post. Why should they be sorry for their profits? They provide a product...we willingly pay for it...sometimes more than we need to by buying huge, heavy vehicles we don't even need. So let them earn their money! I decided to not shell out too much for gas by buying a 4cyl. You don't want money to go to oil companies, go ride a bicycle!

        • 5 Years Ago
        Conundrum: The problem with "we have American alternatives" is a bit misleading. (1)The numerous companies you listed are not all "indies" (2) Like the car biz, what can you truly call "American"?

        Chevron & Texaco are the same company. Same goes for Conoco & Phillips66 (who also have Unocal 76). Hess stations are sprinkled through the east coast. Sinclair are in about 20 of our 50 states. Valero has bought many of Exxon Mobil's gas station biz, (a few of their ex refineries too) & "Valero" signage has not replaced the Exxon Tiger or Mobil Pegasus in every case.

        United Refining owns your Kwik Fill & Keystone options. These two are regional, but CITGO is not & United owns numerous CITGO stations in the USA. Won't some protesters be surprised!!!

        Russia's Lukoil also bought a chunk of stations from Exxon Mobil in 2005. Not all have been rebranded. Tough to tell the "American" alternative to E.M. eh? Oh CROWN... most of their stations are owned by Chevron Texaco. American but part of the "Big Oil" machine.

        Marathon is MI based... & again regional. Sunoco might fuel NASCAR, but their are states they aren't active in. Many of these companies buy from international sources, so how American is it?




        • 5 Years Ago
        Conundrum: Another thing... When do we deliver most of the USA the Staples "EASY BUTTON" for a magic do-over to the American landscape?

        Many rural towns have their youth MOVE AWAY due to the suspect "local industry" (with in walking or biking distance)

        As for older cities, laid out with their working workforce in mind. That stellar public transportation you & Sea Urchin speak... It works in NYC, in parts of Chicago. I want to see you walk through parts of Detroit, Dayton OH, Newark NJ, Gary, IN. Atlanta, GA South Central L.A., etc, etc. Numerous midwest & southeastern cities have grown up dependent on automobiles. Urban sprawl is not a Los Angeles issue. America is a car dependent culture.

        More than the Detroit 3 have PROFITED from this. Anyone selling cars & trucks in the US market sees this in their bottom lines & stock reports. You make it sound like Americans just made these choices overnight. The 'burbs have been booming since the 1960's & the US economy has benefitted richly at key times.

        Freedom of CHOICE is a beautiful concept. What do we really NEED? Why doesn't America take the old Chinese aproach?

        Only NEED one (male)kid to carry on a bloodline. Why not wear a standard gray uniform? Who NEEDS to express yourself through individual fashion?. Dump individual transportation. Noone really NEEDS a car, motorcycle, go kart, skate board. Recreation, Sporting events, booze, tobacco, who really NEEDS this?

        I could go on, but hopefully you catch my points. We could criticize people's lifestyle choice endlessly. Buying a Hummer or that $450,000 house is viewed as DUMB in our current state... a few years ago it was CHAMPIONED & viewed as being a good consumer. The happy medium lies somewhere in the middle.


        • 5 Years Ago
        Conundrum: As to the 2nd post... I never said I was anti-car... I simply took exception with your comments that American's had a choice.

        I said our urban sprawl took decades & adjusting it to your vision would take the "Easy Button". People CHOSE (past tense) they didn't just CHOOSE. You said walking was an option... I disagreed with that being viable in many cities. You said public transportation was an option... I disagreed with you.

        People made their choices because their current living spaces offered better schools, less crime, etc. It was championed for decades & now that fuel costs have made it impractical or economically challenging (or both) we just can't reinvent everything.

        I said EVERY car & truck manufacturer BENEFITED from urban spawl... As people in NYC or perhaps Chicago can attest... one can survive WITHOUT an automobile. Large non industrial cities have had numerous public transit options in place for decades.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Some one is agreeing with me!!! Wow, that feels...weird.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Nick, i live in NYC, we have rich, middle class and poor people in here.

        If there's i will, there's a way.

        Sadly there's no will at all, there's only a will to spend money and to complain later, there's a will for not giving a damn about environment or wars that start because of oil.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Sea Urchin: You live in NYC... the largest city in the USA set up with MULTIPLE mass transit possibilities... & you are lecturing the rest of the country (or @ least the AB world) to move "closer to your office".

        You live in the USA's exception to the rule. A majority of big cities have HUGE 'burbs surrounding them. Businesses are not centrally located. How many manufacturing facilities are paying NYC rent?

        It makes sense for you to ditch your car... in NYC you can get by WITH OUT one. Not everyone is in your shoes.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @AZZO again...

        I think if you would read my original quote you may realize that I am not suggesting that Americans SHOULD make choices to eliminate cars. I only state that they COULD if it was important enough to them. I like my vehicles and I don't plan to get rid of them as long as I can afford to own and operate them... I like all the benefits they permit. But a car is not a NEED it is a CHOICE.

        Also this trend (moving away from town living with all needed amenities nearby) toward spread out living and reliance on cars took decades to accomplish. There are some communities that are trying to get back to that style of living. I read an article a while back about some area around Atlanta that was in very high demand due to food and supply retailers within walking distance and rail access to downtown Atlanta. I for one would prefer an hour long commute by rail where I could relax, text, read a paper, or surf the web rather than stare at the taillights ahead of me in stop and go traffic. Although I COULD choose to drop my current car based life for something like this, I will not because it is not important to me to get rid of my car!
        • 5 Years Ago
        Nobody "willingly" pays for it ...We have NO CHOICE but to pay for it. I also had a 4 banger... problem it also had a turbo. I also had two bikes & a job that allowed me to ride it to work. I saved some $$$ but $4.30 a gallon was still a budget buster.

        Oil was almost close to $150 a barrel & Exxon-Mobil's 45 BILLION is news? Give the CEO & upper management big bonuses... because only a special breed could have delivered those profits.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Conundrum: I never said I was anti-car... I simply took exception with your comments that American's had a choice.

        I said our urban sprawl took decades & adjusting it to your vision would take the "Easy Button". People CHOSE (past tense) they didn't just CHOOSE. You said walking was an option... I disagreed with that being viable in many cities. You said public transportation was an option... I disagreed with you.

        People made their choices because their current living spaces offered better schools, less crime, etc. It was championed for decades & now that fuel costs have made it impractical or economically challenging (or both) we just can't reinvent everything.

        I said EVERY car & truck manufacturer BENEFITED from urban spawl... As people in NYC or perhaps Chicago can attest... one can survive WITHOUT an automobile. Large non industrial cities have had numerous public transit options in place for decades.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @Mazda FTW...
        I agree completely. If you don't want to give your dollar to Exxon, we could use Sunoco, Sinclair, Hess, Chevron, Texaco, Conoco, Marathon, Kwik Fill, Keystone, Crown, Philips 66, Valero... ALL are American based companies who compete with Exxon.

        @ Sea Urchin...
        I agree completely with you for once too. Americans make many choices in life that tie themselves to automobiles. They are never a need unless you make choices to put yourself in a situation without giving consideration to transportation. Many older cities were laid out for a workforce on foot. Many rural cities and towns have houses within walking or bicycling distance of work and supplies. People CHOOSE not to buy them and live further away for a host of reasons. Most larger cities have public transportation with houses within walking distance of the bus/ train/ ferry stops. However again people CHOOSE not to buy them. People CHOOSE that big yard, rural setting, newer neigborhood, desirable school district OVER a car free life! Exxon is proffiting from the CHOICES we make. It is a fact that we can choose other locations or at the very least other oil companies to support.

        Do we need a huge flat screen TV? No...but we really like them.
        Do we need 50 channels? No...but most of us choose to purchase them.
        Do we need an ipod? No...but try to tell that to a younger person.





        People have made choices over the years to get us where we are

        • 5 Years Ago
        Sorry for the double post.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @AZZO45b...

        United refining (Kwik Fill, Keystone, Red Apple, Country Fair) is headquartered in Warren, PA and has 370 gas stations in the northeastern US. UNITED REFINING ADVERTISES USE OF ONLY NORTH AMERICAN CRUDE OIL SOURCES USED TO REFINE THIER GASOLINE!

        Sinclair is privately owned and headquartered in Salt Lake City, UT. They operate 2,600 staions in 21 states. SINCLAIR IS CLAIMED TO USE ONLY NORTH AMERICAN CRUDE BY SOME SITES ON THE WEB.

        Marathon is headquartered in Houston, TX and has 4,400 stations in 17 states (midwest and south).

        Sunoco is headquartered in Philadelphia, PA and has 4,700 sations in 24 states (primarily east coast).

        Hess is headquartered in NYC, NY and has 1,350 stations in 14 states on the east coast.

        Chevron (includes Texaco and Calltex) is headquartered in San Ramon, CA and operates 25,000 branded gas stations.

        Conoco (including Phillips 66, and 76) is headquartered in Houston, TX

        Valero (including Diamond Shamrock, Shamrock, Ultramar, and Beacon) is headquatered in San Antonio, TX. Valero operates about 5,800 stores in 44 states.

        Shell (Dutch)
        BP/ Amoco (British)
        LUK Oil/ Getty (Russian)
        Total/ Fina (French)
        Gulf is a confusing mess
        Citgo is primarily Venezuelan with exceptions in the northeast.

        Americans do have choices other than giving our money to Exxon/ Mobil. I give my money to the oil company that is headquartered in my home state, with refineries in my home state whenever possible. They had a net income of about $50 million in 2008 rather than the $45 billion with Exxon. That is a choice I make. I really don't care what you do with your money, I only wish more people would care enough to find out about the many products we buy. Where they come from, who gets the money, and how does it benefit or hurt me and our country.





        • 5 Years Ago
        "Willingly"? What are we supposed to do? The western world is built around the automobile. For a lot of people, walking, biking, or transit aren't real options, and a car is a -necessity-. It's not like you can simply stop buying gas when you're in that situation, there are no real alternatives at this point.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Nick you are wrong. If auto was a NEED rather than want then people would buy cheapest, most affordable auto they can. Seeing as so many cars come with leather and DVD NAVs i am taking a guess that most cars are a want, not a need.

        It is for some, but if they did not have an auto they would simply have bought a house closer to downtown, where most jobs are.

        Car is a wanting thing, wanting to go fast, wanting to live outside the city.............hardly things that are mentioned in constitution.
      • 5 Years Ago
      JIm,
      Would you stop bringing facts into this thread? You're messing up an otherwise perfect opportunity for people who have no understanding of business, economics, or politics to spread their ignorance. People like you, who are obviously coherent to reality, ruin it for those who like to regurgitate the BS bandied about by those who prefer socialism to capitalism. It's too bad that those crying over oil company profits don't realize that Americans have always paid about $2.00 a gallon for gas when adjusted for inflation. That excludes of course, the $3.25 a gallon gas courtesy of Mr. Carter and the $1.60 a galon gas after the oil bubble burst in the mid / late '90s. Unfortuantely we have a couple of generations who have no comprehension of historical reality.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The oil companies should be limited in the % commissions/profit they can take. My reasoning? If they skim a percentage of each gallon of gas as profit, naturally the higher the gas price, the higher the profit. If they had a fixed commission per gallon, prices wouldn't get as high and they'd get the same amount of money during high or low times.
        • 5 Years Ago
        They just broke the record for profit in dollars in the US, despite lower volume of gas. From a business standpoint, I'd say they are shrewd to increase their margins. From a personal standpoint, I think they suck for continually increasing their margins and negatively affecting the entire economy. But they know they have us by the balls because we all depend on oil products, so they know they can squeeze us.

        If oil doubles in price like it did last year, they get twice as much profit for doing the same work. Using your 8% number, they make $11.20 on a $140 barrel while months before they were making $5.60 when oil was $70. While oil companies don't set oil prices, they sure reap the benefits of high prices, and pass the prices onto us while taking their larger cut (dollarwise).
        • 5 Years Ago
        Do you realize oil companies operate on an 8% margin. Their profit is 8 cents for every dollar they sell. Are you upset that Proctor and Gamble has a much higher (14%) profit margin? Would you own a business that 92 cents of every dollar you make went to infrastructure, payroll or taxes? Do you realize that the oil companies pay the US government more in taxes than they make? Where's the outcry that federal government keeps more of the taxpayers' money than the taxpayer?
        • 5 Years Ago
        quote from Patrick: -
        "If oil doubles in price like it did last year, they get twice as much profit for doing the same work. Using your 8% number, they make $11.20 on a $140 barrel while months before they were making $5.60 when oil was $70. While oil companies don't set oil prices, they sure reap the benefits of high prices" -

        And that's exactly why they made the profit they did. It's also the same reason they will not fair nearly as well this year so long as oil prices stay in the range they are currently. It does work both ways, but you only seem concerned with one side of it. To continue your math, with oil prices where they are now(~$42/barrel) that 8% profit margin means a profit of $3.36. Easy to see how their 1st quarter profits will be wildly different than last year's.

        But, just as you mentioned, oil companies do not set oil prices, the market does. For anyone who still think oil companies do set prices, why then would they ever allow them to go down(as they are now)? It's funny that people only think companies are gouging them when prices are high. What is the company doing when prices are low, gouging themselves? Do you really think your getting one over on the oil companies when you buy gas at $1.00/gal instead of $4.00/gal.? That logic just doesn't make sense to me.

        As far as your first statement, it's very knee-jerk and not particularly well thought out. For one, why single out just oil companies? Why not cap every oil industry's profits if you think that will work out better. Hell, expand it to include any company making over X% profit. Problem there is, you'd include many, many more companies and industries that earn far more than Exxon-Mobil's(and the oil industry's) roughly 8% margin.

        The only reason they make as much as they do is that their revenues are very high. In other words, they sell a lot of what they make. So therefore, the profit they make is not necessarily beacuse it's priced higher or that the consumer is being gouged.

        For instance, in simple terms say you have two companies that make widgets. Company A sells their widgets as $50 and makes a profit of $7.50 per widget sold(15% profit margin). Company B sells their widgets at $30 and makes $3 profit on each(10% margin). Let's say both make $1million in profit, which means that Company A sold roughly 133K widgets and Company B sold roughly 333K widgets.

        Which company is gouging the consumer? Both made the same large profit. In this case, that's exactly how many people view Exxon-Mobil. They see a large profit but don't connect the dots to figure out where that profit comes from. Exxon-Mobil works far more like Comapny B in my example, a lower profit margin than many other companies and/or industries but larger volume. Agreed though that it is a simplistic model.

        Once more, their large profit was more due to the price of their "widgets" going up(which they do not set).

        One other item which is often overlooked. Exxon-Mobil, while being a very large company, is dwarfed by the many other state-owned private oil companies in the World. While people whine and complain about Exxon-Mobil's profits, they think nothing of Saudi Aramco(the world's largest oil company) or the National Iranian Oil Company or the Qatar General Petroleum Corporation. All of these are state-run oil comapnies which are not public companies like Exxon-Mobil which must release financial info. These state-run companies do not have to state what they earn or the profits they make. You can rest assured, being signficantly larger than Exxon-Mobil, their profits are surely equally as large.

        Here's a link to a list of the World's largest oil companies. Note where Exxon-Mobil falls on that list.
        http://www.petrostrategies.org/Links/Worlds_Largest_Oil_and_Gas_Companies_Sites.htm

        That is measured in oil reserves held, but it's still a valid figure to look at and really puts the size of Exxon-Mobil in perspective. Also works to prove how Exxon-Mobil(or any other US oil company, even combined) could never force oil prices in any one direction. As a global player, they are a small dog for sure.
      • 5 Years Ago
      AZZO45b
      1:02PM (2/01/2009)
      Not everyone lives in big cities. Not everyone lives in the sticks either, but my point is you lose your argument when you said subway.

      -The trend in 1950-1960 most people want to go to city and find a better paying job, only a minority doesnt want to move to city because either they retiring or they dont like to mix with other people or race. (Yes they dont feel safe with many color ppl in the city I just have to be blunt and tell u this) Frankly who want to get the same low pay and doesnt want to get more money? And it doesnt have to be subway even some of the bus are really dependable I used to live in North Carolina before i moved to NYC and their bus is very dependable and affordable.

      How many big cities have subways? Elevated trains?? Now lets add medium sized cities (which out number the big ones). How many subways?

      -Many major city which have a large population do have subways and remember how many percent of total American people live in big cities compare to small cities?

      America is auto dependent & thats been the trend since the 1950's. It sped up faster in the late 1960's when the suburbs boomed as people moved away from the big cities (for a number of reasons...)

      -Yes it been auto independant but just look at big cities that have good public transport system they also have cars there. Yes they move away from big city like I said the reason are above.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Sorry dm... I don't recall E-trains or subways in places like Milwaukee or Madison, WI for example. Both have populations of 300,000+. I'm sure there are thousands of those kind of small cities that find themselves with no E or sub train.

        My hometown of Detroit (900,000+) has no subway & the only E-train is more like a tram @ Disney (also has about a 2.5 mile "loop". Indianapolis, IN doesn't have one. St. Louis? If it does you have to be one tough SOB to ride it!

        Glad you NC buses were good... most cities need to raise their game. NC is also a nicer climate to wait for a bus. Sorry, but I understand much of what you are saying (agree with some too),but I just don't think they are viable options. We just can't have a "Do-Over" for the last 50-55 years.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The auto companies must look to the oil co's and not the Government for a bailout. I think the oil co's are making a killing coz of the guzzler's produced by the auto co's and they'd be real happy to continue the trend to see their profit's to soar.
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