As Other Oil Explorers Lean Back, Exxon Leans Way in — Boosting Spend to $32 Billion

Exxon Mobil Corp. raised its spending target to heights not seen since the historic oil-market collapse began in 2014, bucking the cost-cutting trend among rival energy explorers. Shares dropped, making Exxon the day's worst-performing blue-chip stock.Exxon said annual capital outlays will average $32 billion through the end of next year, a 24 percent increase from 2018, the Irving-based driller said on Wednesday. Chief Executive Officer Darren Woods defended the budget increase in a presentation of his long-term vision to analysts at an event in New York."Society needs us to make these investments," Woods told the gathering, an annual rite held at the New York Stock Exchange. "Perhaps the biggest risk to the industry today is underinvestment."Exxon, attempting to arrest years of production declines, is going against the grain of competitors such as Chevron Corp. that are holding the line or reducing spending. Analysts have soured on Exxon as an investment, with almost two-thirds recommending clients avoid buying any more of the stock. The shares fell 2.5 percent to $78.18 at 9:37 a.m. in New York trading.Exxon assured investors and analysts that the spending will pay off -- eventually. The supermajor raised its 2025 profit-growth target by five percentage points to 140 percent compared with 2017 levels.  Continue reading...

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