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Exxon Mobil Shareholders Defy Board

Barrel-clad demonstrators gather outside Exxon Mobil's Dallas meeting yesterday. They protested the company's stand on global warming.
Barrel-clad demonstrators gather outside Exxon Mobil's Dallas meeting yesterday. They protested the company's stand on global warming. (Photos By L.m. Otero -- Associated Press)

After the meeting, Tracey C. Rembert, a representative of the Service Employees International Union, which owns $12.5 million worth of Exxon stock, said Exxon had funded groups that "have tried to muddle the debate" on global warming, not clarify it. She said it was unfortunate because "in so many other ways Exxon excels at long-range thinking."

The tone of the meeting was a little different from the tone of some industry presentations to the public. Instead of noting how narrow profits were as a percentage of revenues, Tillerson pointed to the 31 percent return on capital, the $54.2 billion cash flow in 2005, and the more than doubling of earnings per barrel from mid-2001 to mid-2005. The company earned $36 billion last year, a U.S. record.

While praising Exxon's performance compared with that of other big oil companies, Tillerson said "our results in 2005 were outstanding, clearly supported by strong commodity prices."

That drew few complaints from shareholders, whose dividends rose as they have every year since 1983.

But shareholders showed signs of anger about Raymond's retirement package. Walter Durham, a regional vice president of East-West Ministries International who said he had been a director of more than a dozen companies, said Raymond's package represented "colossal greed" and won loud applause when he called on the board to "never again grant such excessive compensation to an Exxon executive."

There was also substantial shareholder support for some of the other 15 resolutions on the floor Wednesday, though none passed. Three of them attracted about 34 percent of shares cast, including a proposal to require that different people hold the posts of chairman and chief executive, one on reforming the election of directors, and one that would amend the company's equal employment guidelines to make explicit a prohibition against discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The company's meeting at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center attracted a small number of protesters who stood outside with signs that said "No Planet, No Dividends," "Exxpose Exxon," "Corporate Greed Keeps Us in Need" and "This Year's Heat Wave Sponsored by Exxon Mobil."

A group of 10 people wore blue cardboard barrels with slogans including "Bankrupting Our Future" and "Pumping Junk Science."

"I couldn't get everything I wanted to say on a sign," said Carol Ezell, who described herself as a devoted grandmother from Dallas. She held a sign that said "Exxon: A Greedy Polluter."


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