A view of the Exxon Mobil refinery in Baytown, Texas September 15, 2008. A big chunk of U.S. energy production shuttered by Hurricane Ike could recover quickly amid early indications the storm caused only minor to moderate damage to platforms and coastal refineries. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi (UNITED STATES) - RTR21WZK

A view of the Exxon Mobil refinery in Baytown, Texas September 15, 2008. A big chunk of U.S. energy production shuttered by Hurricane Ike could recover quickly amid early indications the storm caused only minor to moderate damage to platforms and ... coastal refineries. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi (UNITED STATES) - RTR21WZK (Reuters)

Exxon Mobil Posts Mixed Fourth-Quarter Earnings

Features Dow Jones Newswires

Exxon Mobil Corp. said its fourth-quarter earnings dropped 21%, hurt by lower commodity prices, while the biggest U.S. energy company also unveiled plans to slash its share buyback program.

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Exxon said it plans to buy back $1 billion in shares in the current quarter, down from its previous level of $3 billion.

Shares edged up about 0.5% premarket as earning declined less than expected.

In the latest quarter, earnings in Exxon's exploration and production business dropped to $5.5 billion, hurt by lower production, which declined 3.8% on an oil-equivalent basis.

Exxon's slumping production in part reflects a willingness to give up some less-profitable barrels, such as at a concession in Abu Dhabi that have expired. Exxon Chief Executive Rex Tillerson has made improving profitability one of the company's highest priorities.

Meanwhile, refining and marketing earnings declined to $497 million, down $419 million, hurt by weak U.S. margins and higher expenses.

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The chemical segment was a bright spot, with earnings growing by $317 million to $1.2 billion, boosted by stronger margins and low feedstock costs.

In all, Exxon reported a profit of $6.57 billion, or $1.56 a share, down from $8.35 billion, or $1.91 a share, a year earlier. Revenue slipped to $87.28 billion from $110.86 billion.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected a per-share profit of $1.34 and revenue of $87.6 billion.

Capital and exploration expenditures increased 5.4% to $10.46 billion

On Friday, Chevron posted its lowest quarterly profit in five years and said it would trim its ambitious spending plans as the collapse in oil prices erased billions of dollars in cash flow.