Oil company beats estimates despite income decline in latest period due to falling prices.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Exxon Mobil reported the largest annual profit in U.S. history Friday, making $45.22 billion on the back of record oil prices.
But Exxon's quarterly profit fell over 33%, as crude prices dropped precipitously in the last quarter as recession spread through the globe.
Exxon (XOM, Fortune 500), the world's largest publicly traded oil company, made $7.82 billion in the fourth quarter on revenue of $84.7 billion. On a per share basis, the company made $1.55, beating analysts' estimates of $1.45 a share.
Exxon shares rose 1% in pre-market trading.
Exxon's annual profit beat the previous record - $40.61 billion - set by the company in 2007.
Oil prices, the driving force behind oil company profits, swung widely in 2008. Crude hit a record $147.27 in July, as surging global demand and wide investor interest pushed up commodity prices across the board.
But as the credit crisis spread and cracks emerged in the global economy, money fled the oil market. By December crude traded in the $30s.
Although stocks in general and oil stocks in particular have fallen sharply in the last few months, Exxon's share price has held up quite well. Exxon shares are down 9% in the last 6 months, compared to a drop of over 30% in the broad Standard & Poor's 500 index.
Analysts have credited the company for a shrewd management style, avoiding lots of spending on expensive projects to find and develop oil when prices were high.
"ExxonMobil's financial strength continued to support its disciplined capital investment approach in the midst of a growing global economic slowdown," Exxon chief Rex Tillerson said in a statement.
The recent drop in oil prices recently has also muted calls for a special windfall profits tax - popular during the summer months when crude traded over $100 a barrel.
During his campaign, President Obama called for a special tax on oil profits whenever crude went above $80 barrel. But with oil prices currently trading around $40 a barrel, and an unprecedented financial crisis to deal with, legislation targeting oil companies has been on the back burner. To top of page