Exxon Mobil Corp. smashed its own record for quarterly profits Thursday, ringing up $14.83-billion in net income in the third quarter, powered by soaring summertime crude oil prices.
Exxon Mobil's earnings, at $2.86 a share, are up 58 percent from the $9.41-billion it made in 2007's third quarter and higher than what analysts expected.
The recent drop in oil prices to less than half the July peak will likely lower oil company profits in the current quarter and the year ahead. On Thursday, UBS AG, citing the lower demand for oil as a result of the worldwide economic slowdown, cut its forecast for oil prices for next year by 36 percent to $75 a barrel.
Firms such as Exxon Mobil are still barreling toward full-year earnings that will easily set new marks in the history of U.S. corporate profits.
The engine of Exxon's earnings growth came from its production of crude oil, where high prices more than offset production volumes that were 8 percent lower than they were in the third quarter of 2007.
The company also made more money from its refining and marketing operations, widening profit margins in those areas even as retail prices set new record highs over the summer.
During the quarter that ended Sept. 30, Exxon Mobil also spent $8.7-billion buying back its own stock. Exxon says this helps return money to shareholders, but some critics have argued that the company should be using the money to expand oil and gas exploration or to invest in renewable energy.
Exxon Mobil's capital and exploration expenditures were $6.9-billion, up 26 percent from the third quarter of 2007.