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Exxon Mobil Corp's (XOM-N) fourth-quarter profit narrowly beat Wall Street's expectations as rising crude oil prices offset falling margins for chemicals, engine lubricants and fuel.
The results sent Exxon Mobil's shares down, as analysts and investors have come to expect results that widely beat expectations.
Production of natural gas and crude oil slipped during the period.
The company posted net income of $9.4 billion US, or $1.97 per share, compared with $9.25 billion, or $1.85 per share, in the year-ago period.
Analysts expected earnings of $1.96 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
The quarterly profit was Exxon Mobil's lowest for 2011.
Total revenue rose 16 percent to $121.61 billion. Analysts expected $119.7 billion in revenue.
Oil companies around the world benefited from a jump in oil prices during the fourth quarter. Crude futures traded in New York jumped about 25 percent to end the quarter at $98.83 per barrel. Brent prices gained 5 percent during the quarter.
The price jump helped to lift Exxon Mobil's profit in the upstream unit, which produces oil and natural gas, by 18 percent. Land sales also lifted the results, the company said.
Still, the weak economy harmed Exxon Mobil's margins. Profit at Exxon Mobil's downstream unit, which makes engine lubricant, fell 13 percent. The chemical unit, which makes plastics and related products, saw profit drop 49 percent.
The Irving, Texas-based company spent $10 billion during the quarter on capital projects and exploration, in line with the same period in 2010.