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Earnings and ExxonMobil’s economic contribution

ExxonMobil announced estimated third quarter results today, and most news coverage is likely going to focus on the global quarterly earnings total of $10.3 billion.

As I mentioned in my post yesterday, it’s also important to look beyond the bottom line of oil company earnings and consider how much a company’s operations and investments contribute to the economy in order to generate those earnings.

For example, our operating earnings in the United States were $2.5 billion in the third quarter, about 25 percent of our total earnings. The amounts we returned to the U.S. economy, however, were significantly higher. We incurred U.S. tax expenses totaling $3.3 billion in the third quarter, and our capital and exploration expenses of more than $2.4 billion helped advance energy projects here in the U.S.

When you combine our tax and capital spend with the $7 billion distributed to shareholders – who are largely U.S.-based (about 86 percent) – our economic contributions to the United States totaled well over $10 billion. And that’s not even counting the production, manufacturing and office expenses that keep our business running.

Globally, it’s a similar story: ExxonMobil’s contributions to the global economy far exceed its earnings. The majority of ExxonMobil’s earnings were made outside the United States, where our taxes totaled more than $24 billion. We also invested $6.2 billion in capital and exploration projects outside the United States this quarter. Combined, these global taxes and capital and exploration expenses were more than three times higher than our non-U.S. operating earnings.

The global economic impact is even larger when you add in our operating expenses and shareholder distributions. As the chart shows, our year-to-date activities have made a contribution of $171 billion to the global economy.

This economic contribution has its own multiplier effect. Capital and operating expenditures create demand for raw materials, products and services – everything from more steel to build pipelines to more construction workers for new facilities to more real estate professionals to handle leasing, for example. In turn, those industries can grow, hire and spend more throughout the economy. Distributions to shareholders provide an economic return to the millions of Americans who invest directly and indirectly in our company.

And taxes help support vital government services here and in many places around the world.  For context on taxes, consider the following: During the first three quarters of 2011, ExxonMobil incurred $10 billion in tax expenses in the United States on $8 billion in U.S. operating earnings.

So, when you read some of the news stories about our earnings over the next day or so, I hope that some of these facts will help outline what our results really mean to the economy.

  • Worth a deeper look...