Exxon’s Darren Woods will break from oil giant’s longstanding CEO silence on quarterly results

DALLAS NEWS

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Darren Woods is breaking with tradition to become the first Exxon Mobil Corp. CEO to sit in on quarterly conference calls with analysts. But it’s not happening until next year.

Woods, who rose to chief executive in early 2017, will participate in the Irving-based company’s fourth-quarter earnings call, typically in late January or early February, Vice President of Investor Relations Jeff Woodbury said Friday in a webcast. In the meantime, a member of his inner circle will answer questions on quarterly calls.

“We believe that the investment community did not have a very good understanding of what our value growth potential was,” Woodbury said Friday during a conference call. “We have taken an extra effort in order to engage with the investment community at all levels of the corporation.”

Exxon CEO Darren Woods(Melissa Repko/Staff)
Exxon CEO Darren Woods
(Melissa Repko/Staff)

For Exxon, the announcement represents a seismic shift in corporate culture as well as a bow to investors and analysts who have said they want more direct access to Woods. Typically Woodbury hosts the calls alone.

Neither of the CEO’s predecessors — Rex Tillerson and Lee Raymond — participated in the quarterly ritual during their combined 24 years leading the company.

The comments follow an earnings report that included the worst first-quarter output since the 1999 merger with Mobil and financial results that fell short of expectations. Exxon reported first-quarter earnings of $4.65 billion, which missed analysts’ estimates despite rapidly rising crude prices.

Crude oil prices are recovering after years of low prices weighing down revenue and profit for Exxon and its peers. Higher prices helped offset higher costs and a drop in production.

The company’s profit jumped 16 percent, with earnings of $1.09 a share, a nickel shy of projections on Wall Street, according to a poll by Zacks Investment Research.

Revenue rose 16.3 percent to $68.21 billion, which easily exceeded analyst expectations of $66.07 billion.

Crude prices are up about $8 per barrel since the beginning of the year.

“Increased commodity prices, coupled with a focus on operating efficiently and strengthening our portfolio, resulted in higher earnings and the highest quarterly cash flow from operations and asset sales since 2014,” Woods said in the earnings announcement.

The Associated Press and Bloomberg

Producers could be getting their appetite for investment back with oil at $65

CNBC

  • With oil prices in a protracted period of relative stability, oil majors are gradually getting the confidence to invest once again, the CEO of Woodside Petroleum indicated.
  • Although Coleman cautioned that it was still too early to budget for $65 oil, he also acknowledged bullish developments in the space.
Why fossil fuels are not necessarily 'dirty': Woodside CEO

Why fossil fuels are not necessarily ‘dirty’: Woodside CEO  

With oil prices in a protracted period of stability, oil companies are gradually getting the confidence to invest once again, the chief executive of Australia’s biggest independent oil and gas producer indicated Monday.

“It’s a nice spot where it is at the moment, around $60 and $65 per barrel,” Peter Coleman, CEO of Australian oil and gas producer Woodside Petroleum, told CNBC at the Credit Suisse Asian Investment Conference in Hong Kong.

“You can almost say that $65 today is kind of the new $80 of what we were three or four years ago, simply because we’ve got cost down and we’ve got margin back into our business,” he said, adding that current price levels meant that operations are sustainable today.

On Monday, oil prices pared some of their gains made after settling above $62 in the last session.

Although Coleman cautioned that it was still too early to budget for $65 oil, he also acknowledged bullish developments in the space.

“At this price, you’re starting to see new projects go to final investment decisions so people are starting to get that confidence again that they can invest,” Coleman said, adding that plenty of companies are making substantial investments in the renewable energy space.

According to Coleman, companies are also starting to change their portfolio mix in a bid to tackle their carbon footprint.

“You can see they’re going more gas-oriented. They’re actually starting to say the mantra is moving from being an oil and gas company to being a gas and oil company,” he said.

Woodside announced earlier in the month that its intention to buy Exxon Mobil’s 50 percent stake in the Scarborough gas field in Australia had been approved by BHP, a stakeholder in the development.