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Global Earnings Freefall May Slow After ‘Throwaway’ Quarter

Bloomberg.com

By Katie Hoffmann and Joseph Galante

April 6 (Bloomberg) — 

EXTRACTS FROM ARTICLE

Exxon Mobil

Profits at U.S. oil and gas companies fell 63 percent last quarter and the declines won’t abate until the fourth quarter, according to Bloomberg estimates. Exxon Mobil Corp., the world’s largest publicly traded oil producer, will probably post its lowest first-quarter profit in five years after crude prices plunged to almost $100 a barrel from 2008’s all-time high.

“First-quarter oil prices year-over-year were pretty weak, and a lot of the majors don’t sell a lot of forward contracts,” said David Foley, who helps manage $2 billion at Estabrook Capital Management in New York.

Oil Falls

Oil futures in New York averaged less than $44 a barrel, down from $97.82 in last year’s first quarter. The average natural-gas price fell by almost half as the first simultaneous recessions in the U.S., Europe and Japan since World War II sapped fuel demand.

Drama in Europe

In Europe, analysts predict profits at companies in the Dow Jones Stoxx 600 Index may rise 22 percent this year.

Profit at Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Europe’s largest oil company, and BP Plc, its U.K. rival, may have plunged more than 50 percent last quarter, according to Bloomberg estimates.

“Earnings compared to last year will be a drama,” said Dirk Hoozemans, who helps manage about $10 billion at Robeco Group in Rotterdam. “Compared with the previous quarter, the earnings outlook is rosier given oil prices bottomed in the first quarter.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Katie Hoffmann in New York atkhoffmann4@bloomberg.netJoseph Galante in San Francisco atjgalante3@bloomberg.net

Last Updated: April 6, 2009 00:01 EDT 

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