How Much Profit is Too Much?
Yesterday, ExxonMobil announced its 2005 profits--the largest of any corporate entity in any year in history.
$36.13 billion, of which $23.2 billion was distributed to shareholders (up $8.3 billion over last year's distribution.
The company obviously feels embarrassed by its riches. The press release, linked above, is full of all sorts of justifications and rationalizations.
The simple truth is that this is simply an obscene amount of money, and ExxonMobil should be embarrassed!
Especially since this was the year where gas prices shot up by over 30 percent for a while, before settling down. Especially considering the impact in the Gulf of Mexico of environmental damage wreaked by hurricanes going through the offshore oil rigs. Especially considering the wretched fate of New Orleans' poor. Even Wal-Mart, not exactly a paragon of corporate virtue, managed to dedicate significant resources to the relief effort. But for ExxonMobil, it's just another chance to line the pockets of its shareholders.
While no oil companies have totally clean hands, I will continue to buy from more responsible companies like Citgo and BP whenever possible.