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Exxon Mobil Stock Price Drop After Earnings Should Be Considered a Victory

Jon C. Ogg

Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) posted nothing short of a seriously dismal earnings report. By now we all know that sending oil to $100, $120 or $140 does not translate automatically to higher earnings for the oil giants. That is twice as true for these companies if they still have their refining units under their umbrellas. Where investors are likely to scratch their heads is how little the oil giant's stock price is down.

Earnings in the second quarter were down by more than half to $6.86 billion, translating to $1.55 in earnings share. We had been looking for estimates of $1.90 in earnings per share. We did not really care so much about the year-over-year comparison because last year contained a huge extraordinary one-time item after a $7.5 billion gain. It is the degree to which Exxon Mobil missed on expectations.

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We saw that Exxon was down as much as just over 2%, and that was about $9 billion or so in market cap being lost. Still, go take any tech giant missing earnings by this wide of a margin and having what appears to be the biggest earnings miss in years and ask how much the stock would be down. You might be braced for a drop of 5%, 10%, or even more. We do not really measure the oil giant's sales because so many Wall Street analysts even refuse to make revenue predictions because revenues (not earnings) are often tied to energy prices, but revenue was down close to 16% from a year ago at $106.47.

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Maybe the cushion is that Exxon Mobil's dividend is 2.7% and we know that it was one of the companies that has raised its dividend for over 25 years and will keep doing raising its dividends. Maybe the real cushion is that the company's own share repurchases to reduce shares outstanding were $4 billion.

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With just about 40 minutes until the closing bell, Exxon Mobil stock is only down 1.5% at $92.35 against a 52-week range of $84.70 to $95.49. Exxon's market cap is still over $410 billion according to Yahoo! Finance. Having a loss this little in the price of the stock is impressive enough that we might be inclined to consider it a victory.

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