(Reuters) - Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N), the world's largest publicly traded oil company, on Friday reported a higher-than-expected 6 percent increase in quarterly profit on stronger results at its chemical and refining businesses.
The Irving, Texas company said profit in the fourth quarter was $9.95 billion, or $2.20 per share, compared with $9.4 billion, or $1.97 per share, in the same period a year earlier.
Analysts on average expected a profit of $2.00 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
"The beat was in downstream and chemicals," said Brian Youngberg, energy company analyst at Edward Jones in Saint Louis. "That's a common theme we are seeing."
Oil and gas output fell 5.2 percent to 4.29 million barrels oil equivalent per day, Exxon said.
Profit at Exxon's exploration and production business fell 12 percent to $7.76 billion. At its chemicals unit, profit more than doubled to $958 million, and refining earnings were $1.77 billion, up sharply from $425 million a year earlier.
Analysts at Barclays had expected refining earnings of $1.53 billion and a chemicals profit of $786 million.
Shares of Exxon edged up to $90.60 in premarket trading, from Thursday's New York Stock Exchange close of $89.97.
Reporting By Anna Driver; Editing by Steve Orlofsky