Exxon Mobil reports 1Q profit of $8.4 billion


Exxon Mobil Corp. brought home huge barrels of money in the first three months of the year - more than any first quarter in company history, the oil giant said yesterday - but it was less than Wall Street expected during a time of sky-high energy prices.

The company's $8.4 billion net income for the quarter added fuel to accusations from politicians, state officials and consumer groups that the oil industry is pocketing hefty profits while motorists grapple with $3-per-gallon gasoline.

Exxon Mobil's earnings for the quarter were equal to $1.37 per share, up from $7.9 billion in profit, or $1.22 a share, for the comparable period last year. Wall Street analysts were expecting net income averaging $1.47 a share, according to Thomson Financial.

Exxon Mobil blamed the shortfall on extra taxes, lower fuel production because of refinery maintenance and an uptick in oil and natural gas production costs. Litigation expenses also rose, the company said.

The company's three-month record for net income came at the end of 2005, when fourth-quarter profit totaled $10.7 billion. The full-year net profit of $36.1 billion was the highest ever for a U.S. corporation.

In New York, the company's share price closed down 68 cents at $62.42 yesterday, a day when many oil stocks fell along with the cost of crude oil.

"We understand that people are quite upset by the current prices that they're paying at the pump," Exxon Mobil spokesman Kenneth Cohen told reporters during a conference call.

But global energy prices are rising because demand is outpacing supply, he said, "and what Exxon Mobil's working hard to do is to increase supplies."

Elizabeth Douglass writes for the Los Angeles Times. Times reporter Maura Reynolds contributed to this article.

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