Exxon Mobil posted a lack of $ 20 billion for the fourth straight quarter

A sign is seen at the entrance to the ExxonMobil Port Allen lubricant plant in Port Allen, Louisiana on November 6, 2015.

Lee Celano | Reuters

Exxon Mobil announced Tuesday that it lost $ 20.1 billion in the most recent quarter. This is the fourth straight quarter that the energy giant has grappled with the effects of the pandemic on the industry.

Exxon announced it made 3 cents per share for the fourth quarter, which was above the 1 cent earnings analyst surveyed by Refinitiv. However, sales remained below expectations at $ 46.54 billion. The street consensus was $ 48.76 billion.

In the same period last year, the company made 41 cents per share on an adjusted basis on sales of $ 67.17 billion. In the third quarter of 2020, Exxon lost 18 cents per share on an adjusted basis and had sales of $ 46.2 billion.

Exxon's shares were up 1.6% on Tuesday.

"The past year has been one of the toughest market conditions ExxonMobil has ever seen," Chairman and CEO Darren Woods said in a statement. He said the company's aggressive cost-cutting measures should result in structural cost savings of $ 6 billion per year by 2023.

"We have built a flexible capital program that is robust for a range of market scenarios and focuses on our highest return opportunities to generate higher cash flow, cover the dividend and increase the earnings potential of our business in the short and long term." Woods added.

On Monday, Exxon announced plans to invest $ 3 billion in carbon capture and other emission-reducing technologies. The move is too little too late to tackle climate change, some have said that Exxon should have invested in the future as a priority. Peers, including BP, have also set net zero goals.

After the unprecedented drop in demand due to the coronavirus pandemic, oil has grown steadily over the past year. US West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures rose more than 2% on Tuesday, trading at $ 54.96 a barrel, their highest level since January 2020. Nonetheless, the energy industry continues to feel the effects of depressed demand.

Exxon's shares are up 9% this year but up 27% over the past 12 months by Monday's close of trading.

Rival Chevron said Friday it lost 1 cent on an adjusted basis in the fourth quarter, compared to the consensus estimate for a 7 cents gain. Sales also fell short of analysts' expectations.

The CEOs of the two largest U.S. oil companies reportedly held merger talks when Covid turned their operations upside down. Exxon declined to comment, while a Chevron spokesman said the company was not commenting on "market rumors or speculation".

Chevron's shares are up 2% this year, but up 19% last year to close on Monday.

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