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Letter to the editor:

Crunching the numbers on Exxon

Fri, Mar 9, 2012 (2:02 a.m.)

I know I am probably going to be labeled an apologist for Big Oil, but I am just an accountant interested in seeing the whole picture. Theresa Krause’s letter,“Gas pumps aren’t filled with goodwill,” drags out the greed mantra that Exxon made a profit of $9.4 billion. Yes, that is a number huge enough to shake a witch’s bones at, but, with sales of $125.3 billion, that profit is 7 1/2 percent of sales. From that, they paid cash dividends of $2.3 billion to shareholders, IRAs, 401(k)s, etc., leaving them with $7.1 billion — that’s 5.6 percent of sales, hardly a windfall. The federal government gets more money in taxes out of a gallon of gas than Exxon gets in profit.

But Johnson & Johnson, which makes so many products we use on a daily basis, made $9.7 billion on $65 billion in sales. That is 14.9 percent — double what Exxon got. But nary a peep about that. If Exxon’s $9.4 billion is vile, why is Johnson & Johnson’s $9.7 billion ignored?

Yes, yes, I know that’s a bunch of numbers and percentages and your eyes are glazing over. But, wait, I know this one: “My brain’s just been washed and I can’t do a thing with it.” And politicians love you for it.

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