The near record oil prices have
left U.S. oil majors
as the envy of industry during the third quarter reporting period, according to many industry analysts. "This is clearly a sector that investors shouldn't worry
about having disappointing earnings surprises," said one.
"The question is not whether they will beat consensus estimates, but by how much they'll beat estimates," said another. Such expectations from analysts and investors come as crude oil prices
in the third-quarter hit ten-year highs and averaged $31.63 a barrel, up from $21.72 a barrel during the period last year.
U.S. natural gas prices were
just as scorching, averaging $4.48 per million British thermal units compared to $2.55 a year ago.
Exxon Mobil Corp.
, for instance, said its second-quarter profits were the highest in U.S. corporate history.
Other so-called integrated oil companies -- those with both upstream and downstream businesses -- such as Texaco Inc.
, Chevron Corp.
, and Phillips Petroleum Co.
, also posted big second-quarter profits alongside healthier returns on gasoline and other refined oil