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Exxon Profit Up 53%; Best Quarter Since 2008

Exxon Mobil earned $9.25 billion in the last three months of 2010, its most profitable quarter since the record third quarter of 2008.

The largest publicly traded oil company said Monday that net income grew 53 percent in the fourth quarter as it produced more oil to take advantage of higher prices.

On a per-share basis, net income was $1.85 per share. In the year-ago quarter, Exxon earned $6.05 billion, or $1.27 per share. Exxon set a record for quarterly net income by a publicly traded company of $14.83 billion in the July-September period in 2008.

Revenue increased 17 percent to $105 billion.

The results beat Wall Street expectations of $1.62 per share on revenue of $99.1 billion, according to FactSet.

Oil companies' profits surged in the fourth quarter as the world consumed more petroleum and oil prices rose 12 percent to an average of $85.14 per barrel. Higher prices made production operations more profitable. Increased demand boosted margins at refineries.

Exxon cranked up production by 19 percent. Its Exploration and production operations posted income of $1.3 billion in the U.S. and $6.2 billion internationally. Downstream operations, which include refineries, reported earnings of $1.2 billion after losing money a year ago. And Exxon's chemicals business reported profits of $1.1 billion.

Last week, Chevron Corp. said net income soared 72 percent to $5.3 billion for the quarter while ConocoPhillips reported a 54-percent jump. BP reports quarterly earnings on Tuesday and Royal Dutch Shell releases its report Thursday.

For the full year, Exxon Mobil Corp. said it earned $30.5 billion, or $6.22 per share, compared with $19.3 billion, or $3.98 per share, in 2009. Annual revenue increased 32 percent to $383 billion.

Shares added 75 cents, less than 1 percent, to $79.74 in premarket trading.

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