Exxon Mobil (XOM - Get Report) said Friday that its first-quarter earnings came in $1.8 billion, or 43 cents per share, 63% lower than in the same period last year but 38% higher than Wall Street expected.
Revenues at the Irving, Texas, oil giant also slid almost 28% over the first quarter of 2015 to $48.7 billion, but they were 8.7% better than analysts expected.
The company said sharply lower commodity prices and weaker refining margins were partly offset by strong results at its chemicals unit.
"The organization continues to respond effectively to challenging industry conditions, capturing enhancements to operational performance and creating margin uplift despite low prices," chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson said in the release. "The scale and integrated nature of our cash flow provide competitive advantage and support consistent strategy execution."
The company's stock was trading relatively flat in pre-market trading on the New York Stock Exchange at $88.20.Exxon Mobil said it's making steady progress on its investment plans with new project capacity additions driving production of liquids - which includes oil and other products - up 11.5% in the quarter, or 261,000 barrels per day. Its upstream, or exploration and production, volumes increased to 4.3 million oil equivalent barrels per day and its capital and exploration expenditures have been reduced by 33% to $5.1 billion.
The company said its chemical earnings jumped 38% to $1.4 billion on stronger margins and higher sales volumes, as it's capturing increased specialty and commodity product demand along with big cost benefits from gas and liquids cracking advantages at its integrated sites.
The downstream, or refining, part of its business earned $906 million as global gasoline demand remains relatively strong.
The company said it distributed $3.1 billion in dividends to shareholders. On April 27 it announced that it was boosting its second quarter dividend by 2.7% over the first quarter to 75 cents per share for the first quarter, boasting that it has increased its annual dividend payment to shareholders for 34 consecutive years.
Exxon Mobil said it generated $5 billion in cash flow from operations and asset sales, whose proceeds came to $177 million. It didn't say what it had sold.