Shell reports drop in profit to $9.45 billion, hikes dividend

  • Shell to boost dividend by 15%
  • Announces plans to buy further $4 billion in shares
  • Profit hit by weak LNG trading and refining

LONDON, Oct 27 (Reuters) - Shell (SHEL.L) on Thursday posted a third-quarter profit of $9.45 billion, slightly below the second quarter's record high, due to weaker refining and gas trading, and said it will sharply boost its dividend by the end of 2022 when its CEO departs.

The British oil and gas giant also extended its share repurchasing programme, announcing plans to buy $4 billion of stock over the next three months after completing $6 billion in purchases in the second quarter.

Shell said it intends to increase its dividend by 15% in the fourth quarter, when Chief Executive Officer Ben van Beurden will step down after nine years at the helm. The dividend will be paid in March 2023.

It will be the fifth time that Shell will have raised its dividend since slashing it by more than 60% in the wake of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic.

Shell shares were up nearly 6% by 1430 GMT, compared with a 3.5% gain for the broader European energy sector (.SXEP).

Van Beurden will be succeeded by Wael Sawan, the current head of Shell's natural gas and low-carbon division.

With a profit of $30.5 billion so far this year, Shell is well on track to exceed its record annual profit of $31 billion in 2008.

The strong earnings were likely to intensify calls in Britain and the European Union to impose further windfall taxes on energy companies as governments struggle with soaring gas and power bills.

Van Beurden said the energy industry "should be prepared and accept" that it will face higher taxes to help struggling parts of society.

Shell's shares have gained more than 40% so far this year, lifted by soaring oil and gas prices in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February and amid tightening global oil and gas supplies.

French rival TotalEnergies posted a record profit in the third quarter.

Reuters Graphics Reuters Graphics

LNG WOES

Shell's quarterly adjusted earnings of $9.45 billion, which slightly exceeded forecasts, were hit by a sharp 38% quarterly drop in the gas and renewables division, the company's largest.

Earnings for the second quarter were a record $11.5 billion.

The world's largest trader of liquefied natural gas (LNG) produced 7.2 million tonnes of LNG in the period, 5% less than in the previous quarter, mainly due to ongoing strikes at its Australian Prelude facility.

Its gas trading business was hit this quarter by "supply constraints, coupled with substantial differences between paper and physical realisations in a volatile and dislocated market."

Earnings from the refining, chemicals and oil trading division also dropped sharply by 62% in the quarter due to weaker refining margins.

Shell said it would stick to its plans to spend $23 billion to $27 billion this year.

Shell's cash flow in the third quarter dropped sharply to $12.5 billion from $18.6 billion in the second quarter due to a large working capital outflow of $4.2 billion as a result of changes in the value of European gas inventories.

Shell's net debt rose by around $2 billion to $46.4 billion due to lower cash flow from operations and to pay for a recent acquisition. Its debt-to-capital ratio, known as gearing, also rose above 20%.

Reuters Graphics
Reporting by Ron Bousso and Shadia Nasralla; editing by Jason Neely, Simon Cameron-Moore and Paul Simao

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Thomson Reuters

Writes about the intersection of corporate oil and climate policy. Has reported on politics, economics, migration, nuclear diplomacy and business from Cairo, Vienna and elsewhere.