Exxon Beats the Street as Refining Margins Leap

Lifted by higher refining margins and stronger prices, energy titan ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM) narrowly beat the Street on Thursday with a 41% leap in third-quarter earnings.

The Irving, Tex.-based blue-chip company said it earned $10.33 billion, or $2.13 a share, last quarter, compared with a profit of $7.35 billion, or $1.44 a share, a year earlier. Analysts had been calling for EPS of $2.12.

Revenue jumped 32% to $125.33 billion, easily surpassing the Street’s view of $113.56 billion.

Despite releasing results that exceeded forecasts from analysts, shares of Exxon gained just 1.15% to $82.00 ahead of the open, underperforming a big rally of 2.5% on the S&P 500 futures.

“ExxonMobil’s results for the third quarter of 2011 reflect a continued commitment to operational integrity, disciplined investing and superior project execution,” CEO Rex Tillerson said in a statement.

Exxon, the world’s largest publicly traded energy company, said its oil-equivalent production shrank 4% year-over-year.

Upstream earnings jumped to $8.4 billion, up $2.93 billion from a year earlier, amid higher liquids and natural gas realizations. U.S. upstream profits inched higher by $185 million to $1.18 billion.

Exxon said its downstream profits climbed by $419 million to $1.6 billion as refining margins rose by $1 billion. Chemical earnings narrowly exceeded $1 billion, but were down $226 million year-over-year due to lower volumes and unfavorable tax effects.

Exxon said its capital and exploration expenditures were flat at $8.6 billion last quarter, but reached a record $26.7 billion for the first nine months of the year.