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Exxon Defends Dividend After First Annual Loss in Decades

  • CEO Woods willing to sacrifice new projects to protect payout
  • Company’s stock advances as much as 4.6%, outpacing crude oil
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Why Exxon Shares Are Up Despite First Annual Loss in Decades
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Exxon Mobil Corp. pledged to safeguard the S&P 500 Index’s third-largest dividend after posting its first annual loss in at least 40 years, a show of defiance by an oil driller besieged by activist investors and climate-change campaigners.

Exxon assured investors of its financial health in a world of $50-a-barrel oil and promised that if crude were to dip to $45 it would sacrifice spending in the name of dividends. The Western world’s largest oil explorer has increased the payout each year since 1972, unlike rivals Royal Dutch Shell Plc and BP Plc that cut distributions last year.