ConocoPhilips (NYSE:COP) announced its earnings for the first quarter of the year this morning before the markets opened. The company’s earnings in the first three months were $2.02 per share. The company fell behind earnings estimates by 6 cents per share a result which will not please investors in a market where the company should be doing well.

Analysts had projected that the company would earn $2.08 per share on revenue of 53.6 billion. In the same period last year the company took in $54.53 billion in revenue in the same period in 2011 and turned it into earnings of $1.82 per share. The earnings estimate has gradually increased throughout the quarter as high oil prices continue with Iranian supply problems seemingly insoluble for some time to come.

ConocoPhilips is the fifth largest private energy company in the world. It concentrates its efforts on the oil industry from exploration to selling to consumers, one of the world’s six major oil company’s that act in this way, the other big company’s in the industry include Exxon Mobil, BP and Chevron which all act in the same way. Although ConocoPhilips is the smallest of those operators it  is still an important part of oil supply production in the globalized economy.

Earlier this month the company’s board rubber stamped a deal that will see much of the company’s downstream businesses spun off. Philips 66 will be the name of the new company and the spin off will be performed by giving shareholders in ConocoPhilips shares in the new company. The new company will be fully independent and will not have any controlling interest from ConocoPhilips. The spinning of of its consumer level business will surely be on the minds of many holders of stock as they review the earnings report later today.

The separation is expected to occur in the next week, just over three weeks after its initial announcement and so much of the moves in the company’s shares on the market today will be in relation to what was said about that change rather than the numbers revealed in theearnings report.

As the price of oil seems stuck at super $100 prices per barrel for the foreseeable future it is a good time to be in the oil industry. Problems in the Middle East continue to cause upward price pressure far above the $100 benchmark. Despite this shares in the firm have been slightly unsteady as of late, trading at a recent low of 68.21 at the end of January and settling at an even 74 on Friday’s close. The firm hit a high of 78.22 in between.