Big bad oil company ExxonMobil is "on the defensive in the face of consumer ire and congressional indignation" as it raked in a "huge" first quarter profit, Washington Post's Steven Mufson informed readers of his front page May 2 article.
Mufson later noted that "[d]espite Exxon's colossal profit, the company's stock fell yesterday." Mufson blamed investors "shift[ing] gears" to turn to other stocks and pull out of commodities. Yet Mufson made no attempt to explore how "new congressional vows to come up with legislation" to tax oil company profits might play into investors being skittish about the company, a favored bogeyman of left-wing populist politicians in election years marked by high gasoline prices.
By contrast, the May 2 Financial Times took a less political, business-oriented look at ExxonMobil with a front-pager by Sheila McNulty and Carola Hoyos entitled, "Exxon oil production struggles for growth":
ExxonMobil, long regarded by its peers and investors as the most successful interational oil company, is beginning to show signs of weakness, revealing on Thursday that it is struggling to increase oil production and to squeeze profit out of its refining business.
The disappointment was deepened by the fact that BP and Royal Dutch Shell, Exxon's closest rivals, had kept production flat or growing and had beaten expectations.
Of course, finding and using more oil reserves and boosting domestic refining capacity are two non-starters for the same liberal politicians clamoring for new windfall profits taxes. What's more, liberal conspiracy theorists often posit that oil companies game supply, keeping it artifically low to jack up prices and profits. Yet as the FT reports, it's the drop in oil production and tight refining capacity that are pose potential long-term threats to the oil company.