DALLAS (AP) _ Oil industry behemoth Exxon Mobil Corp. said Thursday its third-quarter earnings rose to $10.49 billion, the second-largest quarterly profit ever recorded by a publicly traded U.S. company.
The report comes as high crude prices this year have fueled record profits in the oil industry, triggering an outcry from consumers who were being asked to pay about $3 a gallon for gasoline in early August.
The largest quarterly profit ever was Exxon Mobil's $10.71 billion profit in the fourth quarter of 2005.
They may beat that next quarter, said Howard Silverblatt Standard & Poor's Senior Index Analyst. ``Then in all likelihood they will be at that $40 billion mark for the year.''
That would put the company on track for the highest annual profit ever by a U.S. company. Exxon Mobil holds that record with a 2005 profit of $36.1 billion.
Although crude oil prices began to decline toward the end of the third quarter, the average market price for crude held at around $70 a barrel in the period after peaking above $78 per barrel in July. Oil futures prices have recently traded near $61 a barrel, and gasoline prices have dropped to an average of about $2.43 a gallon.
Exxon Mobil, the world's biggest public oil company said its net income amounted to $1.77 per share for the July-September period, up from $9.92 billion, or $1.58 per share, a year ago.
The results surpassed the expectations of Wall Street analysts. On average, analysts expected the company to earn $1.59 per share in the quarter.
Revenue fell to $99.59 billion from $100.72 billion from a year ago, which saw then-record oil prices because of hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Another major international oil company, Royal Dutch Shell PLC said its third-quarter profit fell 34 percent to $5.94 billion even as revenues rose 10 percent to $84.3 billion. But the Anglo-Dutch company's operating profit rose as higher oil prices outweighed worsening refining margins.
Earlier this week, ConocoPhillips reported its profit rose 2 percent to $3.88 billion in the third quarter while another major oil company, BP PLC, said its earnings fell 3.6 percent to $6.23 billion.
A fifth major oil company, Chevron Corp., is expected to report its results Friday.
High oil prices helped Irving, Texas-based Exxon Mobil realize earnings from its oil and gas drilling activities of $6.49 billion, up 13 percent from the prior year. The company also saw stronger earnings from its refining operations and gas stations, and profits at its chemicals segment more than doubled.
Exxon Mobil shares rose in premarket trading to $72.35 after closing Wednesday at $71.01 on the New York Stock Exchange.