Shell profits smash forecasts as oil and gas prices soar

The profits were lifted by soaring oil and natural gas prices as global economic activity picked up. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (REUTERS, BLOOMBERG) - Shell boosted its share buybacks after reporting profits that blew past analyst estimates on the back of surging energy prices. 

Fourth-quarter adjusted earnings surged 55 per cent from the previous quarter to US$6.4 billion (S$8.6 billion), buoyed by surging oil and gas prices, causing the biggest annual share-price gain in five years.

It caps a tumultuous year in which Shell was targeted by activist investor Dan Loeb, relocated its headquarters to London and dropped “Royal Dutch” from its name. 

For the year, Shell’s adjusted earnings soared to US$19.3 billion, compared with US$4.85 billion in 2020.

The energy giant said it planned this year’s spending at the lower end of the US$23 billion to US$27 billion after spending US$20 billion in 2021.

The company also announced it will buy back US$8.5 billion worth of shares in the first half of 2022, including US$5.5 billion from the sale of its Permian shale assets in the United States.

That compares with share buybacks totalling US$3.5 billion in 2021.

Ever since Shell slashed its dividend in 2020 during the initial stages of the Covid-19 pandemic, chief executive officer Ben van Beurden has been seeking to lure back investors by improving returns. 

Shares of the company rose 1.7 per cent to 1,964.2 pence at 8am in London. 

Shell is the first European oil major to report earnings, following a mixed bag of results from its US peers.

Last week, Chevron Corp disappointed investors after its overseas upstream business and domestic refining network fell short of expectations. ExxonMobil, however, tripled its cash flow and said it would accelerate buybacks, elevating its shares to the highest since April 2019.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.