Energy: A Barrel of Cash

ExxonMobil is raking in profits--and investors want their fair share

For ExxonMobil, success has bred an odd problem. With oil prices hovering near $50 per bbl. recently, the energy behemoth has been churning out profits. Over the past 12 months (through the end of March), earnings gushed to $28 billion--almost 40% above the previous year--on revenues of $306 billion. With minimal debt, the oil giant, based in Irving, Texas, is sitting on a $30 billion hoard of cash. The problem: What will the company do with all that loot?

It is a question that oil watchers, policymakers and, of course, ExxonMobil shareholders are buzzing about. Will the company loosen its purse...