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    ExxonMobil's U.S. Downstream Earnings Rise

    Company exec says refining margins were strong during the first quarter.

    IRVING, Texas -- ExxonMobil Corp.'s global downstream division suffered an unexpected $41 million decline in net earnings to $1.545 billion during its 2013 fiscal first quarter. The division, which oversees the company’s convenience store and gas station operations, blamed maintenance activity at its international refineries for the lower profit.

    U.S. downstream division earnings were a much difference story, though. Domestic downstream profits for the period ended March 31 rose to $1.039 billion, a gain of $436 million compared to the 2012 fiscal first quarter. David Rosenthal, ExxonMobil's secretary and vice president of investor relations, noted during today's earnings call that refining margins were strong, boosting U.S. downstream earnings.

    ExxonMobil did not break down its earnings specifically for its c-stores and gas stations. In addition, Rosenthal did not provide an update on whether the company successfully completed its shift from company-operated locations to dealer-operated sites that carry the oil giant’s banner. As CSNews Online reported Feb. 1 -- the day of ExxonMobil's 2012 fourth-quarter earnings call -- the company was in the homestretch in closing the books on its direct-served business.

    The executive did provide plenty of information on the company's overall performance, however. ExxonMobil's overall net profits continue to hum along. In its latest quarter, the company earned $9.5 billion, a slight 1-percent improvement compared to the same period in 2012.

    The company also announced a hefty dividend increase yesterday, which suggests it has plenty of confidence in its financial standing. ExxonMobil is now the second-largest dividend payer in the world behind Apple Inc.. "We are well positioned to maximize long-term shareholder value," Rosenthal relayed. "We raised the dividend and continue to raise the dividend.

    ExxonMobil had $6.6 billion in cash as of March 31. The company expects to use some of those funds to repurchase shares of its stock.

     

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