|IRVING, Texas, Oct 24 (Reuters) - Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE:XOM - news), the No. 1 U.S. oil company, on Tuesday said third-quarter earnings nearly doubled, beating expectations, alongside some of the strongest crude oil and natural gas prices in a decade.
Third-quarter profit, excluding special charges and merger expenses, rose to a record $4.29 billion, or $1.22 a share, from $2.21 billion, or 62 cents a share, in the same period last year on a pro forma basis, the oil company said. Revenue climbed to $58.9 billion from $49 billion in the year earlier period.
Analysts surveyed by First Call/Thomson Financial were forecasting on average earnings of $1.16 a share for the company, which completed its acquisition of Mobil last year and helped set off a rash of takeovers in the industry. Exxon Mobil said recently that the deal will eventually result in annual savings of $4.6 billion.
Exxon Mobil, as well as the rest of the oil industry, has been helped by crude oil prices that averaged $31.63 a barrel in the quarter, compared with $21.72 a year ago, and natural gas prices that rose to an average of $4.48 per million British thermal units from $2.55. Its exploration and production business posted earnings of $3.1 billion as a result, more than twice the $1.5 billion it recorded in the third-quarter of last year.
It also said that with higher commodity prices, its capital and exploration spending of $2.6 billion in the third-quarter was up about 10 percent from the second-quarter. Spending should be even higher in the fourth-quarter, the company said. Shares of Exxon Mobil closed at $89-1/16 on Monday on the New York Stock Exchange.