Exxon Mobil Reports a $20 Billion Loss, Fourth-Straight Quarter in the Red

Lee Celano | Reuters
  • Exxon beat estimates on the bottom line, but revenue came up short of expectations.
  • "The past year presented the most challenging market conditions ExxonMobil has ever experienced," Chairman and CEO Darren Woods said.

Exxon Mobil said Tuesday it lost $20.1 billion during the most recent quarter, its fourth-straight quarter of losses as the energy giant grapples with the pandemic's impact on the industry.

Exxon said it earned 3 cents per share excluding items during the fourth quarter, which was ahead of the 1 cent profit analysts surveyed by Refinitiv expected. Revenue, however, came up short of expectations at $46.54 billion. The Street consensus was for $48.76 billion.

In the same period a year earlier, the company earned 41 cents per share on an adjusted basis, on $67.17 billion in revenue. During the third quarter of 2020, Exxon lost 18 cents per share on an adjusted basis, while generating $46.2 billion in revenue.

Shares of Exxon advanced 1.6% on Tuesday.

"The past year presented the most challenging market conditions ExxonMobil has ever experienced," Chairman and CEO Darren Woods said in a statement. He said the company's aggressive cost-cutting measures are expected to deliver structural expense savings of $6 billion per year by 2023.

"We've built a flexible capital program that is robust to a range of market scenarios and focused on our highest-return opportunities to drive greater cash flow, cover the dividend, and increase the earnings potential of our business in the near and longer term," Woods added.

On Monday, Exxon announced plans to invest $3 billion in carbon capture and other emissions-cutting technology. The move is too little too late for fighting climate change, according to some, who say Exxon should have prioritized investing for the future. Peers including BP have also set net-zero targets.

Oil has steadily climbed during the last year following the unprecedented demand loss from the coronavirus pandemic. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures advanced more than 2% on Tuesday to trade at high as $54.96 per barrel, the contract's highest level since January 2020. Still, the energy industry continues to feel the impacts of depressed demand.

Shares of Exxon are up 9% this year, but down 27% over the last 12 months through Monday's close.

Rival Chevron on Friday said it lost 1 cent during the fourth quarter on an adjusted basis, compared with the consensus estimate for a 7 cent profit. Revenue also came up short of analysts' expectations.

The CEOs of the two largest U.S. oil companies reportedly held merger talks as Covid roiled their operations, according to several reports. Exxon declined to comment, while a Chevron spokesperson said the company does not comment on "market rumors or speculation."

Shares of Chevron are up 2% this year, but down 19% over the last year through Monday's close.

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