First of Big Oil Giants To Report 2007 Profits Had Best 4th Quarter Ever
Santa Monica, CA — ConocoPhillips reported a 37 percent increase in earnings, the best fourth quarter profits in its history, by benefiting from record crude oil prices at the expense of hard-pressed U.S. consumers facing soaring gasoline prices at the pump, consumer advocates said today.
The first of the Big Oil companies to report 2007 results, Conoco said income in the last quarter was $4.4 billion, or $2.71 per share an increase from $3.2 billion or $1.91 a share the in the comparable 2006 quarter.
“These oil giants post obscene profits, regularly setting new records and then stick it to the consumer at the gas pump,” said John M. Simpson, consumer advocate with the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights. “Then instead of using their gains to invest in research or to reduce outrageous prices, they simply buy back their stock.”
Conoco, the third largest oil company in the United States, purchased $2.5 billion of its own shares in the fourth quarter and $7 billion worth over the last year. It has said it expects to buy back between $2 billion and $3 billion in the first quarter of 2008.
Financial results for the full year would also have set a record except for Venezuela’s nationalizing Conoco‘s operations in that country. Conoco posted net income of $11.9 billion or $7.22 a share compared with $15.6 billion or 9.66 a share in 2006. Adjusting for the “second quarter Venezuelan impairment” the oil giant said 2007 income would have been $16.4 billion or $9.97 a share.
“A responsible company would accept equitable profits and reduce prices to consumers or perhaps take the long view and make substantial investments in research and development,” said Simpson. “Unfortunately Big Oil executives are blinded by dollar signs and their history of ever soaring record profits. ”
The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights is California’s leading non-profit and non-partisan consumer watchdog group. For more information visit us on the web at: www.ConsumerWatchdog.org and www.OilWatchdog.org.