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Apr 27, 2018

Exxon posts worst first-quarter output since 1999 merger

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Exxon Mobil Corp. posted its weakest first-quarter output since the 1999 merger that created the company in its modern form, underscoring the eroding quality of its worldwide portfolio.

The explorer pumped the equivalent of 3.889 million barrels a day in the quarter, the first sub-4 million figure for that time of year in almost two decades. The number was also lower than all seven estimates from analysts in a Bloomberg survey. Exxon announced the results Friday in a statement; the shares fell 1.9 per cent at 8:22 a.m. in New York.

Chief Executive Officer Darren Woods is seeking to rebuild oil and gas reserves in an investment drive targeting US$30 billion in annual outlays well into the next decade. Woods’ vision runs counter to what investors are demanding from rivals, which have been restraining spending and returning cash to shareholders in the form of stock buybacks.

Major oil producers in Europe, meanwhile, have posted some of their best quarterly results in years amid an oil rally driven by OPEC-led production cuts, geopolitical threats and swelling demand.

Exxon’s first-quarter profit of US$1.09 a share was a penny below the average of 17 analysts’ estimates in a Bloomberg survey. The Irving, Texas-based company is scheduled to host a conference call at 9:30 a.m. Eastern time.

Woods, in his second year at the helm, has said buybacks rank below dividends and investments in five key long-term projects from Brazil to Papua New Guinea. Those projects are crucial to future earnings, and are being made at a time when other companies are pulling back from major spending, making them potentially more lucrative.