DALLAS (AP) — Exxon Mobil Corp. earned nearly $8 billion in the third quarter, but that was down 18 percent as the company made a lot less money refining oil into fuel.
Although Exxon increased oil and gas production slightly, it wasn't enough to offset weakness in refining, which also hurt results at other major oil companies.
Refining margins have collapsed this year. An easing of transportation bottlenecks has boosted the price of some North American crude oil. Meanwhile, gasoline prices have fallen because of ample supply and moderate demand.
Exxon, the biggest U.S. oil and gas company, said Thursday that third-quarter net income was $7.87 billion, or $1.79 per share. That compared with $9.57 billion, or $2.09 per share, a year earlier. Revenue dipped 2 percent to $112.37 billion.
It was Exxon's second-smallest quarterly profit since mid-2010, beating only this year's second-quarter earnings of $6.86 billion. Still, the results narrowly beat expectations. Analysts forecast profit of $1.77 per share on revenue of $107.39 billion, according to a FactSet survey.
Earnings at Exxon's so-called upstream business of finding and drilling for oil and gas improved, rising $740 million to $6.7 billion. Production increased 1.5 percent because of new projects and fewer maintenance interruptions.
But profits plunged in the "downstream" business of refining oil and selling the finished products such as gasoline and diesel fuel. That segment earned $592 million, down $2.6 billion from its record third quarter of 2012. Exxon said overcapacity in the refining industry has cut into margins.
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