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Exxon 2Q profits surges on asset sale, oil prices, but production slips

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NEW YORK, N.Y. - Exxon Mobil's net income rose 28 per cent in the second quarter on a sale of Asian assets and higher oil prices, but oil and gas production slipped a disappointing 6 per cent.

Exxon reported net income of $8.78 billion in for the second quarter Thursday, on revenue of $111.65 billion. Last year during the same period, the company earned $6.86 billion on sales of $106.67 billion.

On a per-share basis, Exxon earned $2.05, up from $1.55 last year. The average estimate of analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for profit of $1.91 per share, but that estimate does not include the benefit from the Asian asset sale.

Exxon, based in Irving, Texas, does not provide a breakdown of its adjusted results excluding one-time events such as asset sales. Exxon's sale of power and utility assets in Hong Kong helped increase its earnings by $1.2 billion.

Exxon also benefited from higher oil prices in the quarter, both in the U.S. and abroad. In the U.S., Exxon sold oil for an average of $98.55 per barrel, up from $93.18 per barrel in last year's second quarter. Outside of the U.S., oil sold for $103.72, up from $101.54 last year.

But the asset sale and higher oil prices masked a continuing decline in oil and gas production at Exxon. Production fell to 3.84 million barrels of oil and gas per day from 4.15 million barrels last year. The decline was driven by the expiration of rights to a field in Abu Dhabi, low natural gas demand in Europe, and natural field declines.

Exxon's production has been steadily shrinking, and it is a continuing concern for investors. "Production volumes were weaker than anticipated," said Brian Youngberg, an analyst at Edward Jones. "Declining production continues to be a problem for the company."

On a conference call with investors, Exxon's investor relations chief David Rosenthal said despite the declines the company remains on schedule to meet its output targets for the year thanks to higher-than-expected oil production in the U.S., rising oil production at a Canadian oil sands project and liquefied natural gas production out of a new project in Papua New Guinea.

Exxon did not say whether increased U.S. economic sanctions against Russia would affect its ability to proceed on schedule on its extensive joint operations with the Russian state-owned oil company Rosneft.

"We are waiting for further details on the sanctions in order to better understand how we need to comply," Rosenthal said.

Exxon Mobil Corp. shares were down $3.11 to $100.14 in afternoon trading.

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