Earnings: Oil Booms, Amazon Struggles

In the second week of the earnings season, big oil reaped even bigger profits, while some transportation companies also saw improvement.

Here is a look at the performance of some of the significant companies reporting quarterly results this week and expectations for what's to come:

Big Oil = Big Money

Thanks to oil at $70 a barrel and gasoline at $3 a gallon, the major oil companies this week all reported huge profits for the quarter ending June 30. All told, the Big 5 oil companies reported more than $34 billion in profits, up 36 percent from a year ago.

ExxonMobil, the world's largest company by market capitalization, made $10.36 billion in profit. That is 36 percent above the same period last year and is the second-highest quarterly profit reported ever by a company. Put another way, that profit equals $114 million a day, $80,000 a minute

Shell earned $7.32 billion, up 40 percent from a year ago. Despite difficulties in oil production in regions like Nigeria and the Gulf of Mexico, the higher oil prices made up for the losses.

ConocoPhillips, the nation's third-largest oil company, earned $5.18 billion, 65 percent higher than the same time frame last year.

Chevron profits soared 18 percent to set a quarterly record for the 127-year-old company. It earned $4.35 billion for the quarter ending in June from revenue totaling $5.35 billion.

BP reported a 30 percent increase in profits, earning $7.27 billion.

Planes and Automobiles

US Airways Group reported a second-quarter profit of $305 million compared with a loss of $3 million from a year ago. The airline includes America West and the formerly bankrupt US Airways. US Airways joins Southwest and AirTran, which reported larger profits for the quarter.

UAL Corp., the parent company of United Airlines, is expected to post profits next week, a first in six years. Why the recent turnaround? Fewer flights that are filled with people paying higher prices. According to industry analyst Harrell Associates, business fares were up 18 percent while leisure fares were up 9 percent.

DaimlerChrysler reported it doubled profits, thanks to its Mercedes unit. Profit from the Chrysler division of the company dropped 91 percent, plunging to $65 million from $695 million a year earlier. Chairman Dieter Zetsche said Chrysler suffered from a 6 percent decline in sales.

Beer and Smoke

It might be tougher to light up a cigarette in some bars and restaurants throughout the United States, but that didn't stop the nation's second-largest cigarette company from reporting a 50 percent increase in profits. Reynolds American Inc., the company that makes Camel, Kool and Winston, earned $376 million. The company said it actually expects earnings in the second half of the year to be reduced by $40 million as it fights more proposed smoking bans in Arizona and Ohio, and ballot measures to increase cigarette taxes in California and Ohio.

The nation's best-selling beer maker, Anheuser-Busch, earned $638 million, slightly more than 7 percent from last year. The company reports that it has about 49 percent of the beer market. It also announced that prices on selected beers will increase in the winter. Bottoms up!

Amazon Struggles

Amazon.com saw its earnings plunge 58 percent for the quarter even as sales rose 22 percent. The company lost money focusing on providing free or heavily discounted shipping to its customers. The company insists that it is investing in the future and building customer loyalty. Some investors wonder when they'll see more results.

Additional reporting from Dan Arnall

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