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The big exploration-and-production company said its fourth-quarter profit surged to $6.6 billion Thursday as energy prices remained buoyant.

For the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, the Irving, Texas-based oil major earned $1.01 a share on revenue of $66 billion. Excluding special items, latest-quarter earnings were $4.42 billion, or 68 cents a share, which is a dime ahead of the Thomson First Call analyst consensus. A year ago the company made $3.79 billion, or 56 cents a share, on revenue of $56.2 billion.

"Strong fourth quarter earnings continued to reflect the improved results we have seen throughout 2003," Chairman Lee Raymond said. "Plans for long-term capacity increases remain on track as reflected by strong liquids volumes growth in the fourth quarter and higher capital spending, which for the year is up over 15%."

The company is due to discuss its numbers in an 11 a.m. EST conference call. Ahead of the discussion, Exxon Mobil shares rose 59 cents to $41.30.