Exxon Mobil ($72.96, down $1.69) reported earnings that smashed its own record for the biggest profit from a U.S. company, earning an astounding $14.9 billion in the third quarter. That makes back-to-back quarters that Exxon has broken its own record.

The company reported revenues of $138 billion and net income came in at $2.86 a share, versus $9.4 billion, or $1.70 a share, a year ago. Wall Street was expecting Exxon to earn $2.39/ share on revenue of $131 billion.

So let’s get this straight. For the last six months, Exxon has made over $26 billion. That is amazing. Of course, Exxon will justify these hefty profits by saying that the costs of exploration and technology continue to rise and that they are putting most of this money back into the company, but man, that is a ton of cash. Makes you wonder what the real cost of oil should be, huh? Oil companies are coming off a quarter where oil prices had reached an all-time high of nearly $150/ barrel.

The stock is trading lower today despite the record profits because production was down when compared to last year’s quarter. The stock jumped nearly $9 on Tuesday from $66 to $74 so the “big” move had already been made. There’s that classic buy the rumor, sell the news trade.

The chart for Exxon is improving and today’s slight decline should help fill in some of the gaps it made from Tuesday’s strong push. If we can get a strong base here, the stock could make a run to $80 where it would face some resistance. Short-term option traders are targeting the November 80 calls (XOMKP, $1.85, down $0.35) while longer-term option traders are focusing on the January 85 calls (XOMAQ, $2.75, down $0.75).

I like a few other sectors more than oil right now (like the casino stocks) but there has been plenty of action in Exxon’s options today.

Rick Rouse