Business memo 08/05/02

Monday, August 5, 2002

Exxon earnings fall 41 percent in second quarter

DALLAS -- Exxon Mobil Corp. said last week that second-quarter earnings fell 41 percent, and it blamed the decline on lower oil and natural gas prices and thinner profit margins in its refining business.

The weaker-than-expected earnings triggered an 8.5 percent drop in Exxon Mobil shares and the stock prices of other major oil companies also fell sharply. The industrywide sell-off came as rival Royal Dutch/Shell on Thursday reported a steep decline in its second-quarter profit.

Exxon Mobil said earnings in the three months ended June 30 were $2.64 billion, or 39 cents per share, down from $4.46 billion, or 65 cents per share, in the same period last year. Revenue slipped 9 percent to $50.91 billion from $56.18 billion.

Manufacturing grows slowly; jobless claims up

Manufacturing activity grew more slowly in July and jobless claims are up, according to economic reports released Thursday, underscoring an economy struggling to fully recover from last year's recession and the Sept. 11 attacks.

The Institute for Supply Management reported that its index of business activity slipped to 50.5 percent in July from a 56.2 percent in June. It was the sixth straight month of growth, but it fell below analysts' expectations of 55.0. An index above 50 signifies growth in manufacturing.

Construction spending, meanwhile, declined by 2.2 percent in June from the previous month, the Commerce Department reported. That pushed down the value of construction projects to $820.8 billion, the lowest level since August 2000.

General Motors sales soar 24 percent

DETROIT-- Powered by its summer marketing program and the popularity of its light truck line, sales of General Motors Corp. vehicles soared 24 percent last month compared with July 2001, the automaker said Thursday.

Ford Motor Co. posted its first monthly sales increase of 2002 on Thursday, while DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group reported a 3.4 percent drop in U.S. vehicle sales from July a year ago.

Sales of GM light trucks were up 36.5 percent and passenger car sales increased 11 percent over July of last year.

Disney's net income dips 7 percent as of June 30

BURBANK, Calif. -- Drops in attendance and guest spending at its domestic theme parks and continued weakness at its ABC Television network contributed to a 7 percent decline in net income at The Walt Disney Co. for the third quarter.

The company said last week that net income for the quarter ending June 30 was $364 million, or 18 cents per share, compared to $392 million, or 19 cents per share, in the same period last year.

The results beat expectations of analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call by a penny per share.

Revenue fell 2.7 percent to $5.8 billion from $5.96 billion in the same quarter last year.

-- From wire reports

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