HOUSTON (Reuters) – Exxon Mobil Corp joined a parade of oil companies posting downbeat results as it posted a first-quarter loss after a nearly $3 billion inventory writedown on plunging oil demand and low prices.
Global fuel demand has tumbled by a third on coronavirus-related lockdowns and business shutdowns. Oil giants have largely reported losses because of weaker margins and writedowns from an oil glut that has has sent prices to historic lows.
Exxon said profit fell in every business apart from chemicals, which benefited from low oil and gas prices.
“COVID-19 has significantly impacted near-term demand, resulting in oversupplied markets and unprecedented pressure on commodity prices and margins,” said Exxon Chief Executive Darren Woods.
The company’s results echo those of rivals Royal Dutch Shell and BP, though Chevron reported a first-quarter profit gain by virtue of asset sales.
The largest oil companies have largely sought to protect investor payouts by increasing borrowing or cutting expenses. Exxon, BP, and Chevron maintained their quarterly payouts while Shell cut its dividend for the first time since World War Two.
Exxon posted a loss of $610 million, or 14 cents per share, in the quarter, compared with a profit of $2.35 billion, or 55 cents per share, a year earlier.
Its shares were down 2% at $45.49 in pre-market trading. The stock is down 34% this year.
Exxon’s production rose slightly to about 4 million barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd) from 3.98 million boepd.
(Reporting by Arathy S Nair in Bengaluru and Jennifer Hiller in Houston; Editing by Arun Koyyur and David Goodman)