(Reuters) - Weak oil prices shriveled quarterly profit at Exxon Mobil Corp and Chevron Corp , compelling both companies to rethink operations and plan for what many expect to be a sustained period of cheap crude.
Weaker oil prices ate into Chevron Corp’s first-quarter profits, while the second-largest U.S. oil company also took a hit from downtime at two of its three biggest U.S. refineries.
First-quarter net income fell 4.5% to US$6.18-billion, or US$3.18 per share, from US$6.47-billion, or US$3.27 per share, a year earlier. Analysts had expected US$3.08 per share, according to the average on Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S, and shares of Chevron rose by 0.4% in premarket trading.
The help from refining operations mirrored results at large, integrated peers such as Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N) and Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L), which tend to lean on their refining divisions for profit during times of cheap oil. Oil prices (CLc1) (LCOc1) have slumped more than 40 percent since last June amid a glut of global supply, harming Chevron's division that produces oil and gas, its largest, but helping profit more than double to $1.42 billion at its refining arm.