Higher oil and gas prices helped Exxon Corp. increase its profit 15% in the first quarter, the country's biggest oil company said Monday.
Exxon's profit rose to $2.18 billion, or 87 cents per share, from $1.9 billion, or 76 cents per share, a year ago.
Exxon was expected to earn 82 cents, based on the average estimate of Wall Street analysts, but its stock declined 12.5 cents to close at $53.375 on the New York Stock Exchange.
Exxon said it received an average $20.31 a barrel for crude oil in the quarter, compared with $17.37 a year ago, and an average $2.88 per thousand cubic feet for natural gas, compared with $2.58. Prices have since fallen.
"They won't be reporting these kinds of earnings [again] for a while," said John Hervey, an analyst with Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette Securities Corp.
Irving, Texas-based Exxon said revenue for the quarter rose 7.6% to $33.6 billion from $31.2 billion.
After a gain of $125 million for tax-related items, Exxon's net income in the 1996 quarter was $1.9 billion, or 76 cents a share. Exxon had no special gains or charges in the 1997 first quarter.
Earnings from Exxon's U.S. exploration and production unit rose to $554 million from $419 million in the 1996 quarter. Outside the U.S., earnings rose to $890 million from $879 million.
Oil prices on the New York Mercantile Exchange averaged $22.91 last quarter. So far in the second quarter, they've averaged $19.60. First-quarter natural gas prices averaged $2.379 per thousand feet, compared with $1.944 this quarter.
Exxon's capital and exploration spending totaled $1.79 billion in the first quarter, compared with $1.99 billion in the year-ago quarter.
While strong oil and gas prices in the first part of the quarter helped earnings in one portion of Exxon's business, falling prices in the latter part helped segments that use oil and natural gas as raw materials.
Separately, Chicago-based Amoco Corp. reported first-quarter earnings nearly unchanged from last year as poor profit in refining offset higher crude oil and natural gas prices and production.
Amoco's net income rose to $674 million, or $1.36 a share, from year-ago profit of $672 million, or $1.36 a share, before a gain of $56 million gain from asset sales.
The results met expectations.
At a Glance:
Trans World Airlines Inc. said its losses widened to $71.6 million in the first quarter because weaker passenger revenues and costs associated with upgrading its aircraft fleet. TWA reported a loss before charges of $70 million, or $1.51 a share, compared with a loss of $37.1 million, or $1.46, a year ago. The loss was greater than an average estimate of $1.06 a share.
Nabisco Holdings Corp.'s first-quarter earnings rose 21% as the company focused its advertising spending on more-profitable mainstays such as Oreo cookies and Ritz crackers. Net income at the biggest U.S. maker of cookies and crackers rose to $64 million, or 24 cents a share, from $53 million, or 20 cents, a year earlier. That beat by a penny the average estimate of analysts.
Hasbro Inc. said first-quarter profit rose 5% to $25.7 million, or 20 cents a share, from $24.4 million, or 18 cents, in the year-earlier quarter.
Qualcomm Inc. reported fiscal second-quarter net income of $16.7 million, or 23 cents a share, from $1.5 million, or 2 cents, in the year-earlier period.
Comsat Corp. said it had a first-quarter loss because of expenses at its Ascent Entertainment Group Inc. unit, reporting a net loss of $5.3 million, or 11 cents a share, compared with net income of $9.3 million, or 19 cents, in the year-ago period.
BellSouth reported first-quarter profit down 29% to $693 million, or 70 cents per share, down from $970 million, or 98 cents, a year ago.
Liz Claiborne Inc. reported first-quarter net income of $42.1 million, or 59 cents per share, compared with $35.9 million, or 49 cents, a year ago.
Eli Lilly & Co.'s first-quarter profit rose 11% to $432.6 million, or 79 cents a share, which includes a charge, from $389.2 million, or 71 cents, a year earlier.
Unisys Corp. reported first-quarter earnings of $19.3 million, or a per share loss of 6 cents after paying preferred dividends, compared with a net loss of $13.4 million, or 25 cents, in the year-ago quarter.
Yes Entertainment Corp. reported a first-quarter net loss of $3.2 million, or 34 cents, compared with a loss of $891,000, or 7 cents, in the year-ago quarter.
Arden Realty Inc. reported first-quarter net income of $8.4 million, or 38 cents per share, compared with a net loss of $5.7 million, or 26 cents, a year ago.
Applied Magnetics Corp. reported first-quarter net income of $31.1 million, or $1.06 per share, compared with $8.6 million, or 30 cents, in the year-ago period.
Southland Corp. reported first-quarter net income of $5.5 million, or 1 cent per share, compared with $5.5 million, or 1 cent, a year ago.
Consolidated Freightways Corp. reported net income of $3.3 million, or 15 cents per share, compared with a net loss of $20.1 million, or 91 cents, a year ago.
Marsh & McLennan Cos. said first-quarter earnings rose 15% to $164.4 million, or $2.25 a share, from $143.1 million, or $1.96, a year earlier.