Posts tagged “oil company profits”
Unfair Profits or Lots of Volume?
Most people, if asked to name off the top of their head which industries were taking advantage of consumers to generate insanely high profits, would likely have the oil and gas industry at the top of their list. Isn’t it a well-known fact that with gas prices spiraling through the roof, “Big Oil” is by far the most profitable industry out there, hence they must be taking advantage of consumers?
Actually, it’s not that simple. But public opinion would have it otherwise.
In fact, industries such as internet information providers and personal computers rank well above major integrated oil and gas (Big Oil) when it comes to profit margins. The simple definition of profit margin is: A ratio of profitability calculated as net income divided by revenues, or net profits divided by sales. It measures how much out of every dollar of sales a company actually keeps in earnings.
It is clear that many people have a very simplistic — but wrong — view of the energy markets. This extends to politicians who believe they can usher in a return to $2 gasoline, as well as those who underestimate the difficulty of replacing oil with renewable energy.
For the average person, gasoline prices go up because oil companies are pulling strings, meeting in secret to set prices, or withholding product from the market. To top it off, we are sending them our tax dollars as subsidies while they are wallowing in cash! That’s the view from the man on the street. Somehow, I would have expected a USC business school professor to have a more sophisticated understanding of the situation — especially if he decided to write an article about it. But I would have been wrong.
Normally, when I read something like the following, I am more prone to just shake my head over the sad state of the person’s energy IQ. But I am making an exception here in the case of Professor Ira Kalb, a marketing professor at USC’s Marshall School of Business. The professor recently wrote the following article for Business Insider:
As I noted in a previous essay, rising gas prices inevitably mean that our political leaders start looking to assign blame. The annual ritual has been to call the CEOs of the biggest oil companies in the U.S. to Washington so politicians can engage in a bit of political theater. The 2011 dog and pony show has now been scheduled: Oil-industry CEOs to get grilled by Congress At a Senate hearing, the CEOs will be pressed to explain why gasoline prices are so high — they average nearly $4 in most places and have topped $5 a gallon in few cities. Democrats are also planning to pressure the companies to renounce long-standing government subsidies totaling billions of dollars a year…. Continue»
It is no secret that consumers are suffering from very high gasoline prices. And as a result of these high prices, ExxonMobil just reported a first-quarter profit of $10.7 billion — 69 percent higher than a year ago. The national level of disgust and anger is approaching record levels as we watch the loss of our hard-earned dollars become Big Oil’s gain. The question is, what are we going to do about it? Before discussing how to deal with this, we should first discuss what it is that we are actually trying to do. I believe the very simplistic view is that by going after the oil companies, they are going to relent and lower gas prices. Thus, their profits… Continue»