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    ExxonMobil, Sunoco Profits Decline

    Low cost of fuel could continue throughout the first half of 2002.

    HOUSTON -- Exxon Mobil Corp. and Sunoco Inc. reported large declines in fourth quarter profits because of a steep drop in crude oil prices and weak demand for refined products in a poor economic environment.

    Annual profits for both companies were down compared with 2000, although executives said they remain hopeful for a turnaround in 2002.

    Exxon Mobil Corp., operator of more than 5,000 convenience stores, said fourth quarter profits fell 44 percent as demand and prices for crude and natural gas dropped.

    The Irving, Texas-based company reported a net profit of $2.68 billion, or 39 cents per share, compared with $5.22 billion a year earlier. Revenue for the quarter was $47.3 billion compared to $64.1 billion.

    For 2001, net income fell 14 percent to $15.3 billion, down from $17.7 billion in 2000. Annual revenues fell to $212.9 billion from $232.7 a year ago.

    Philadelphia-based Sunoco, which refines crude and sells various products, fourth-quarter earnings plunged due to economic weakness and warm weather that hurt profit margins in its refining and chemicals businesses.

    Sunoco's net income plunged to $4 million, or 5 cents a share, for the three months that ended Dec. 31, from $154 million in the fourth quarter of 2000, the company reported. Sunoco, which operates more than 500 convenience stores, reported revenue of $2.95 billion for the fourth quarter, compared with $3.86 billion in the fourth quarter of 2000.

    "While high fuel inventories and warm winter weather continue to depress current refining margins, the outlook for the upcoming driving season is more favorable,'' said John Drosdick, chairman and chief operating officer. "Further, as the economy strengthens, we expect to see improvement in chemical product demand and margins."

    Sunoco said it had net income of $398 million on revenue of $14.14 billion for the year, compared with net income of $422 million on revenue of $14.75 billion in 2000.

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