Exxon Mobil Corporation

Exxon Mobil

The ink on Exxon Mobil's balance sheet comes in one grade: Premium. The energy giant fell just short of setting a company -- and world -- record for profits this year. The last world record was set by -- you guessed it -- Exxon Mobil, back in 2008. The abundance of cheaper domestic energy both hurt and helped the company in 2012. A greater supply of U.S. crude and natural gas drove production revenues down. But it was Exxon's refineries that saved the day. With supplies close at hand, making fuel was a lot cheaper, which helped boost profits. -- Tom Ziegler Photo: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg/Getty
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    Rex W. Tillerson
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Refining has been considered a drag on earnings by some analysts, but the world’s biggest refiner didn’t buy that logic. It resisted the trend of spinning off refineries to focus on oil drilling.

In 2012, Exxon Mobil posted the second-highest annual profit in U.S. history, surpassed only by its own 2008 record. Net income rose to $44.8 billion, a 9.3% jump from the previous year and only slightly below its 2008 record $45.22 billion.

In the year ahead, the company plans to reduce oil and natural gas production by 1% and focus on investments in tapping into hard-to-reach fields.

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