Monday, August 18, 2008

Moron-Math Used to Claim Exxon-Mobil is Overtaxed


When oil-industry propagandists try to fool the public into showing sympathy for the greedy oil monopolies, they lately cite the high taxes the oil companies pay. What???

Exxon-Mobil profits are up 70% in the most recent three-month sales report. But a recent soundbite says that in the last 3 months, "Exxon paid almost $3 in taxes ($32.361 billion) for every $1 in profits ($11.68 billion)".

Certainly the U.S. government doesn't charge income taxes at a 75% rate. So what are these guys talking about?

And since Exxon's total revenue was $138 billion and the taxes they paid were $32 billion, they are not even paying a 33% tax rate!!

Doing the math, there's $106 billion of other money that flowed through Exxon during those three months, and most of it they don't call "profit". Yeah, some of it was to pay the suppliers of the crude oil; of course, they are also the supplier of a lot of that oil.

I'd sure like to tell the the IRS that about my small business.

According to CNN,

"The company returned $10.1 billion to shareholders in the form of dividends and stock buybacks, 12% more than last year."

This doesn't count as a profit for the company. The shareholders pay the taxes on it instead.

And a lot of those taxes are not really "paid" by the company.

The oilmeisters love to whine a lot about gas taxes being the problem. For example, $9.5 billion of the taxes Exxon paid in that quarter were sales taxes which the company merely extracts from consumers and then passes onto the government. And of course, that gas tax goes to pay for roads, which keeps us all driving and buying their gas.

Of course, our ever-non vigilant media always fails to reveal that while the price of a barrel of oil has zoomed, the profit for refining that barrel has also zoomed. The "refining margin" is a forgotten statistic, and that profit goes only to the USA oil monopolies, not to some "foreigners" who are ripping off Americans.

How much of the spike in oil prices has really gone to other countries, and how much has been grabbed by the big-5 worldwide oil monopolies?

I wish someone would report that.

--Rex Frankel


Exxon Mobil once again reported the largest quarterly profit in U.S. history Thursday, posting net income of $11.68 billion on revenue of $138 billion in the second quarter.
That profit works out to $1,485.55 a second.

Buried in the story we also find that "In addition to making hefty profits, Exxon also had a hefty tax bill. Worldwide, the company paid $10.5 billion in income taxes in the second quarter, $9.5 billion in sales taxes, and over $12 billion in what it called 'other taxes.'"

MP: In other words, Exxon Mobil paid $32.361 billion in taxes in the second quarter, which works out to $4,114 in taxes per second. Another way to look at it - Exxon paid almost $3 in taxes ($32.361 billion) for every $1 in profits ($11.68 billion), see chart above.


NEW YORK ( -- Exxon Mobil once again reported the largest quarterly profit in U.S. history Thursday, posting net income of $11.68 billion on revenue of $138 billion in the second quarter.

That profit works out to $1,485.55 a second.

That barely beat the previous corporate record of $11.66 billion, also set by Exxon in the fourth quarter of 2007.

"The fundamentals of our business remain strong," Henry Hubble, Exxon's vice president of investor relations, said on a conference call. "We continue to capture the benefit of strong industry conditions."

But Exxon (XOM, Fortune 500) profit fell short of Wall Street estimates.

Analysts predicted the company, the world's largest publicly traded oil firm, would make $12.1 billion in profit on $144.4 billion in revenue, according to Thomson Reuters.

Exxon shares fell about 3% on the New York Stock Exchange.

Excluding money set aside for a recent damage award related to the Valdez tanker spill back in 1989, Exxon made $11.97 billion in the quarter.

Pricey oil cuts both ways

Exxon was both helped and hurt by high oil prices.

As an oil producer, the company makes a lot of money when crude prices rise. Exxon made $10 billion from selling oil in the latest quarter, up nearly 70%.

But as a refiner, it must also buy crude oil to turn into gasoline. Exxon actually buys more crude than it sells.

Profits from its refining business totaled $1.6 billion in the quarter, less than half of what they were last year.

"Record crude oil and natural gas realizations were partly offset by lower refining and chemical margins, lower production volumes and higher operating costs," read a statement attributed to Rex Tillerson, Exxon's chief executive.

While oil prices in the quarter were nearly twice as high as the same time last year, gasoline prices only rose about 30%.

That's one reason why the stock of major oil companies - such as Exxon, Chevron (CVX, Fortune 500), Royal Dutch Shell (RDSA) and BP (BP) - that both produce and refine crude has been relatively flat over the last year, despite the runup in oil prices.

Meanwhile, shares of companies that mostly produce oil, like Anadarko and Apache, have soared in the last year, while shares in refiners like Valero and Sunoco have tumbled.

Where the money goes

Exxon spent $7 billion in the second quarter finding and producing more new oil, up 38% from last year. Still, oil and natural gas production from the company fell 8%. Even excluding special events such as a labor strike in Nigeria and seizure of fields in Venezuela, production slipped 3%.

The production declines shouldn't be seen as an indicator the world is running out of oil, said Fadel Gheit, a senior energy analyst at Oppenheimer.

Rather, as the price of oil rises, the amount of oil Exxon or any international oil firm is allowed to pump from many oil-rich countries decreases, said Gheit.

"We didn't expect production to be down as much as reported," he said. "But that doesn't mean [worldwide] production is down, just that Exxon's share is decreasing."

The company returned $10.1 billion to shareholders in the form of dividends and stock buybacks, 12% more than last year.

On an earnings-per-share basis, Exxon made $2.22. That was still lower than analysts had expected, but 24% higher than last year, a gain Exxon attributed to its aggressive stock buyback plan.

The big international oil companies have been criticized for plowing much of their profits back into stock buybacks and other programs to benefit shareholders, as opposed to exploring for more oil which could bring down the price of crude for everyone.

"While oil companies are earning record profits and gas prices are soaring, the largest oil companies have invested more resources in stock buybacks than U.S. production," said Congressional Democrats in a press release shortly after Exxon announced its earnings.

Other critics charge the oil companies with deliberately restricting production in an attempt to keep prices high.

The industry says it's investing as much as it can in finding new oil, but is having a hard time given the shortage of workers and equipment in the sector.

Recent efforts by countries such as Russia, Venezuela and Kazakhstan to gain greater control of their own domestic oil resources have also hampered the ability of international oil companies to increase production.

In addition to making hefty profits, Exxon also had a hefty tax bill. Worldwide, the company paid $10.5 billion in income taxes in the second quarter, $9.5 billion in sales taxes, and over $12 billion in what it called "other taxes."

Political backlash

With Americans paying nearly $4 a gallon for gas, oil company earnings have been political fodder of late.

Congressional Democrats said they are having a conference later in the day to call for an end to tax breaks for big oil firms.

Several bills have been introduced in Congress to enact a "windfall" profits tax on these earnings, or at the very least eliminate manufacturing tax exemption oil companies now enjoy. Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama wants to tax oil companies at a special rate every time crude goes over $80 a barrel.

Most plans would either use this newfound tax money to fund investments in renewable energy, or give it to low income Americans struggling with high energy prices.

But so far those efforts have been blocked - mainly by Republicans - who say raising taxes on oil companies will only discourage investments in finding new oil and raise the price of crude.

Defenders of oil company profits also point out that their profit margin, at around 8%, is slightly below average for S&P 500 companies, and far below the 20%-plus margins seen at companies such as Microsoft or Pfizer.

Saturday, August 02, 2008


Giving “Choice” to a Captive Audience is bad for media behemoths:

The USA’s Biggest Radio monopolies are selling off stations, But sticking with their monopoly on billboards…

With the public turning to digital music players and podcasts, they can avoid the homogenized, ad-packed, junk-radio formats that litter the AM and FM dials in most cities. What they can’t miss, though, are the sky-blocking billboards owned by the same radio behemoths. During the late 1990’s, two corporations went on a deregulation-fueled radio and billboard buying spree. The two, CBS and Clear Channel, loaded up on debt to buy these speculation-steroid-enhanced properties. The results are mixed. CBS has done well, as it is insulated by its holdings in TV and publishing.

Clear Channel, on the other hand, which made its name in the early years of the Bush administration as the home of Rush Limbaugh and countless other right-wing radio hotheads, has lost a ton of someone’s (?) money. Their zeal to buy up radio stations led them to own over 1200 across the U.S. CBS, the next largest owner at its peak had 180 stations. Clear Channel reported losses totaling $21 billion in 2002 and 2005 due to the true value of their radio empire becoming evident, and they have sold off their 56 TV stations and are trying to sell off over 400 radio stations in smaller USA markets. Clear Channel was recently sold to several investment groups for $17.9 billion, after a $19.5 billion deal fell through.

With the economy in the dumper lately, a lot of the USA media are fighting themselves for market share—ah, yes, competition, we haven’t seen that for a while. As the internet has gobbled up ads from daily newspapers, we are seeing hard times for the daily papers that have largely served up corporate press releases to their readers masquerading as news.

Most important to the media monopolies is a “captive” audience. This is when we have over 100 cable channels available to us, but most of them are owned by the 5 media monopolies (CBS/Viacom, GE, Time-Warner, Fox and Disney). For daily newspapers, in most cities in the USA we have only one choice. For radio, the listeners and ad revenues are monopolized by CBS and Clear Channel, who each have 8 radio stations in L.A., for example. The big profit is in the audience having no alternative, and therefore, we are captive watchers or listeners. For example, when I tune into the 6 L.A. rock music stations, and a commercial block comes on, when I switch stations, guess what? They and all the other rock stations are playing commercials, too. Is this coincidence or collusion?

Thanks to my digital music player, I can pack my entire music collection in a little box. I really don’t miss the inane, pre-recorded chatter. I can always look away from the billboards, unless I’m stuck in the gridlocked traffic.

But that’s another rant…

---by Rex Frankel


CBS to sell 50 of its radio stations:,0,6157912.story

August 1, 2008

“The New York-based broadcasting company, controlled by billionaire Sumner Redstone, said Thursday that it planned to sell 50 radio stations in a dozen mid-size markets as ad revenue continued to slide in a weak economy. The company's once-mighty radio division continued to produce static and a drag on the company's earnings…

…Just two years ago, CBS Radio boasted nearly 180 radio stations. It has since shed about 40 stations, and with the planned sale of 50 more, the company would cut its holdings to about 90 stations. Included on its roster are Los Angeles powerhouse AM stations KNX 1070 and KFWB 980.

Analyst Tom Taylor said CBS might look to sell stations in such markets as Sacramento, Riverside and Las Vegas to focus on big-market stations that produce greater revenue. The loss of Howard Stern, who defected to satellite radio, continues to be felt, he said.”