Exxon Mobil Earnings Call Nuggets: Unit Profitability and International Side Profitability

Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) recently reported its first quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call.

Unit Profitability

Doug Leggate – Bank of America Merrill Lynch: Two quick questions please. Unit profitability, David, on the Upstream continues to like the historical capture rate. Can you comment as to whether something that material has changed there, I guess a couple of years ago we talked about the start of LNG trends, is there anything specific you can point to, but could lead us back on track to where we have been historical.

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David S. Rosenthal – VP, IR and Secretary: I think if you look at what’s happened over the last couple years as you noted, the change in the mix in particular, the addition of the U.S. gas volumes particularly over the period when prices were down in the $2 and some range, you saw the next impacting the unit profitability relative to the historical trend. As we go forward when you look at the longer-term and you look at the liquids increases that we have coming on and the higher gas prices that we have seen, you can reasonably expect the profitability to reflect those increases in both the production as well as the margin. And one of the other things to keep in mind as we crank up these new projects again is going to be the addition of long-term plateau volumes and the lower decline rate, so as the decline rate levels out (Indiscernible) you’re not chasing the decline that we had in prior years, you won’t be investing this much money to keep the production levels where they are. I think the other thing that’s positive as we look down the road again in addition to the liquids increase that we’ve talked about in the analyst meeting and the increase we’re projecting this year and going forward, the LNG projects that we have coming on stream in the next few years are all sold out with the gas linked under long-term contracts to crude oil prices. So again it gets back to the longer-term looking at the projects that we have coming on this year and in the next few years and the relative profitability of those projects and again over the long-term very confident in the robustness of those projects and our ability to bring them on stream and get those barrels to market.

Doug Leggate – Bank of America Merrill Lynch: My follow-up hopefully a quick one, (somebody is got to ask you) David the share buybacks, $14 billion of cash flow, you’re not covering the cash outflow. Can you just talk about what you’re signaling to – is this – oil spilled over to $100 and you’re cutting the buyback program. My recollection is you’re not using the planning assumption. So any color you can give us would be appreciated.

David S. Rosenthal – VP, IR and Secretary: Doug, let me hit that comment from a couple of perspectives. First, when you look at the cash flow in the quarter as you saw from the sources and uses of funds, we had basically a zero impact on working capital and in prior quarters we had positive impacts there. We did close and pay the $3 billion for the Celtic acquisition and we also had some timing of tax payments and that sort of thing. So, but the cash flow again is just an outcome of the earnings give or take this timing effects. As we’ve said in terms of the buyback, I have to tell you, there’s no change in our approach to capital allocation and in the use of our cash flow as you saw, we once again raised the dividend here and board announced that yesterday 10.5% this year following on the 21% increase last year. So, we continue to raise the dividend on a consistent basis. And in the share buyback is strictly a function of cash flows in the quarter and expectations going forward in the quarters, but no change in terms of signal or the way that we approach the allocation of the funds.


International Side Profitability

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Doug Terreson – ISI: So, my question is also on Upstream profitability. I’m just going to ask a little bit a different way and specifically international side meaning your point is taken on U.S. natural gas the benefits of some of these large LNG projects over the longer-term. But internationally between flat realizations versus last year plus or minus and Rex’s, comments on declining drilling and completion costs to March. I just want to see if you could maybe provide a little bit more color on some of the volume and mix effects components on the international side that you highlighted and exhibited ’12, and maybe also whether or not there’s a geographical aspect of the mix affect that’s at work here?

David S. Rosenthal – VP, IR and Secretary: If you look at on the international side and you take a look at the profitability, one other things that we’re seeing there is a mix impact with some of the loss of some of the higher margin barrels from the production Syrian contracts that we’ve seen over the last couple of years and then the mix certainly when you get into in this part of the year of European gas sales. So, nothing structural and nothing really deployed out other than some mix effect. But again, if you look over a longer period of time at the projects we have coming online and the earnings contribution that those will make I don’t think you’ll see any major change to talk about relative to prior history.

A Closer Look: Exxon Mobile Earnings Cheat Sheet>>