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Business & Finance

Exxon posts first annual loss as a public company on COVID-19 blow

  • Exxon cut up to 15% of its workforce and delayed oil and gas projects after accepting oil prices could remain below $60 a barrel for years.
  • The company reported a net annual loss of $22.44 billion for 2020, compared with a full-year profit of $14.34 billion in 2019.
02 Feb 2021

Top US oil producer Exxon Mobil on Tuesday posted its first annual loss as a public company as the COVID-19 pandemic hammered energy prices and it reduced the value of its shale gas properties by more than $20 billion in the fourth quarter.

Exxon cut up to 15% of its workforce and delayed oil and gas projects after accepting oil prices could remain below $60 a barrel for years. It added $22 billion to its debt last year to cover its dividend and project spending.

The company reported a net annual loss of $22.44 billion for 2020, compared with a full-year profit of $14.34 billion in 2019.

Exxon posted four straight quarters of losses in 2020 and is under fire from activist investors pushing for board changes and a better strategy for a global transition to cleaner fuels.

On Tuesday it named former Petronas President Tan Sri Wan Zulkiflee Wan Ariffin to its board of directors, and said it was in discussions with other candidates.

Exxon shares rose 2.3% to about $46 in pre-market trading.

Other oil majors are also under pressure as pandemic-related travel restrictions cloud fuel demand and spur cost-cutting at energy firms.

Rival BP plunged to its first annual loss in a decade on Tuesday while Chevron on Friday fell to the first annual loss since 2016.

Royal Dutch Shell reports financial results Thursday and Total SA reports next week.

Exxon posted a net loss of $20.2 billion, or $4.70 per share, in the fourth-quarter ended Dec. 31, compared with a profit of $5.69 billion, or $1.33 per share, a year ago.

Excluding the impairment and other charges, the company earned 3 cents per share, beating analysts' average expectation of a one-cent gain, Refinitiv IBES data found.

Exxon's oil and gas output was flat at 3.7 million barrels of oil and gas per day in the quarter, as the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries curtailed output.

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