Big oil companies finished 2018 strong, despite plunge in prices

The world’s largest Western oil companies shrugged off a plunge in oil prices in the final months of 2018 and posted some of their biggest annual profits in years.

The strong fourth-quarter earnings released this morning by ExxonMobil and Chevron Corp., following similar results by Royal Dutch Shell on Thursday, demonstrated that the big oil companies are seeing benefits from a more disciplined strategy focused on returns and profitability over growing production.

As The Wall Street Journal reports, the companies have restructured their businesses, sold off assets and positioned themselves to thrive even when crude prices swing up and down wildly.

Global crude prices fell 38% at the end of the fourth quarter, but ExxonMobil still generated $6 billion in net income in the period—lower than the year before, which was boosted by the U.S. tax overhaul, but still better than analysts had expected. Chevron says net income was $3.7 billion, up 19% from the period a year ago.

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