Resilient and ultimately morally bankrupt, international oil darling Exxon Mobil has managed to take the 2008 medal for most profitable American corporation, despite a 33 percent fall in fourth-quarter earnings.

The New York Times:

Exxon Mobil, the world’s largest publicly traded oil company, said Friday that its fourth-quarter income fell 33 percent as oil prices declined.

But in a year where oil rose to a record before having its steepest-ever collapse, Exxon still managed to set a record as the most-profitable American corporation. The company earned $45.2 billion in 2008, up from $40.6 billion in 2007.

After riding a tide of swelling earnings in recent years, the once high-flying oil sector is beginning to scramble to adjust to a sharp downturn.

Oil prices have dropped more than 70 percent since peaking above $145 a barrel in July. After averaging $100 a barrel in 2008, oil prices are set to decline for the first time this year since 2001.

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