Exxon Mobil Inc. XOM, -0.91% said it expects higher oil and gas and chemical prices to boost fourth-quarter earnings, but it is also expecting to write down $18 to $20 billion of upstream assets. In a regulatory filing, the oil giant said chemical margins would improve by $200 million to $400 million from the third quarter, while downstream margins would range from down $100 million to up $100 million.
Changes in liquids prices would boost upstream earnings by up to $400 million from the third quarter. Exxon has posted losses for three straight quarters, battered by weak oil and gas prices, a slump in demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic and a big natural gas play in the acquisition of shale producer XTO Energy that has proven to be badly-timed. The company will report fourth-quarter earnings on Feb. 2. Shares were up 0.8% premarket, but have fallen 42% in the year to date, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.65% has gained 6.6% and the S&P 500 SPX, +0.64% has gained 15.5%.