Buoyed by last year's spike in crude prices, Exxon Mobil Corp. today reported a profit of $45.2 billion for 2008, breaking its own record for a US company, even as its fourth-quarter earnings fell 33% from a year ago. The previous record for annual profit was $40.6 billion, which the world's largest publicly traded oil company set in 2007.
The extraordinary full-year profit wasn't a surprise given crude's triple-digit price for much of 2008, peaking near an unheard of $150 a barrel in July. Prices have fallen roughly 70% since then, tumbling 60% in the fourth quarter alone amid a deepening global economic crisis. Exxon’s net income slid to $7.8 billion in the October-December period, compared to $11.7 billion in the same period a year ago.