ExxonMobil has best cash flow in 23 years

Counter-cyclical investing credited in results

In its recent fourth quarter 2022 earnings report, the ExxonMobil Corp. announced quarterly earnings of $12.8 billion and full-year earnings of $55.7 billion while saying it had paid $1.3 billion in European taxes.

Excluding the sales of assets, Chairman-CEO Darren Woods said, ExxonMobil had its best cash flow since the merger of the Exxon and Mobil companies in 1999.

Woods said from corporate headquarters in Irving that his company’s capital and exploration expenses totaled $7.5 billion in the fourth quarter and brought full-year 2022 investments to $22.7 billion.

“Of course our results clearly benefited from a favorable market, but to take full advantage of the undersupplied market our work began years ago, well before the pandemic, when we chose to invest counter-cyclically,” he said.

“We leaned in when others leaned out, bucking conventional wisdom, and we have continued with these investments through the pandemic and into today.”

A counter-cyclical stock is a type of stock with financial performance that is negatively correlated to the overall state of the economy.

“This year our improved asset portfolio, organizational changes and strong operating performance came together to deliver industry-leading earnings, cash flows, return on capital employed and total shareholder returns,” Woods said.

Senior Vice President-Chief Financial Officer Kathy Mikells reported upstream earnings in the exploration and production sector of $40 billion, which was a $23-billion bump from 2021 “in a volatile commodity price environment driven by tight supply and recovering demand.

“Liquids realizations increased by 44 percent for the year while natural gas realizations increased by 120 percent,” Mikells said.

“The earnings benefit from volume growth in Guyana and the Permian more than offset the volume loss from divestments and other items such as weather disruptions and the overall impact from the expropriation of Sakhalin,”she said, referring to the seizure of ExxonMobil’s oil and gas project in East Russia.

Reporting 10 new discoveries in Guyana last year, Mikells said her company uses a “design one, build many” philosophy and project management discipline to deliver projects ahead of schedule while continuing to grow its resource base.

“In the Permian Basin we have focused on optimizing the long-term development of our advantaged contiguous acreage position, using technology to improve resource recovery,” she said. “We continue to set Basin records for the longest lateral drilling, which is a key component of our unique development plan that delivers industry-leading capital efficiency.

“Strong cost control partly offset inflation and helped us to fund increased activity.”