Earnings a share topped Wall Street expectations but the gains largely came after a big stock buyback that reduced the number of outstanding shares by 5 percent.
"Their reliance on share buybacks mutes the earnings a share beat," said Brian Youngberg, energy company analyst at Edward Jones in St. Louis. "I'd rather see them give the cash to shareholders in the form of a dividend increase."
First-quarter profit for the world's largest publicly traded oil company totaled $9.5 billion, or $2.12 a share, compared with $9.45 billion, or $2 a share, a year earlier.
Analysts, on average, expected the Irving, Texas, company to report a profit of $2.05 a share.
Total oil and natural gas production declined 3.5 percent to 4.395 million barrels oil equivalent a day from the same quarter a year ago.
Profit in Exxon's exploration and production unit fell about 10 percent to $7 billion, but low natural gas prices in North American led to an 62 percent increase in profit in its chemicals business.
Shares of Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) fell 0.6 percent to $88.91 in premarket trade.
(Updated at 9:32 a.m. ET)