I'm OK with them paying more than they might have earlier if the extra time they took in evaluating their purchase leads to a better selection of what to purchase. The XTO purchase was a bad choice and now would be a good time to be more selective and not rush in to another bad choice.
In my view, for what it's worth, their next purchase will be for a company that has large oil/gas reserves since buying reserves is far less expensive and uncertain than drilling for them. Their need to replace reserves should be their top priority.
You seem to forget two very important facts:
1. Exxon did use their AAA rating recently to borrow 12 billion dollars.
2. Exxon has 300 Billion dollars worth of treasury stock they have accumulated though their years of stock buybacks.
They are in a position to buy whatever company they see value in when ever they see fit to do so. It is not surprising they haven't bought yet. They will make sure what they buy will be beneficial to Exxon.
Actually 31 cents is the average analyst estimate for this quarter. The 52 cents you quoted is the estimate for the 2nd. quarter. They should beat the 31 cents.
Dividend increase will be announced around 1:00 today. Look for 3 to 4 cents per quarter to bring yearly dividend to $3.00 or greater. Just saying.
They could but it's not likely. They have better uses for their war chest than fighting off short attacks on the stock price. Think long term.
It's all perfectly legal. That is why you need to have a longer view on the company and not be influenced by the day to day volatility. We can't control that but we can select good companies with a proven track record. By the way look for an increase in the dividend in April. My guess is 3 to 4 cents per quarter.
This is the magic number that those who wrote calls at $83 Strike Price are focusing on. Options expiration is Friday and they need to keep XOM below $83 to prevent their shares being called away on Friday. With the price of WTI oil sharply rising the stock price should be well above $83 but a concentrated effort is being made to keep it down.