Shell posts $6.2 billion profit, announces $3.5 billion share buyback

People pump gas into their vehicles at a Shell petrol station on October 2, 2023 in Alhambra, California. 

Frederic J. Brown | Afp | Getty Images

British oil giant Shell on Thursday reported $6.2 billion profit for the third quarter, roughly in line with estimates, as the company benefited from higher oil prices and refining margins.

Analysts expected adjusted earnings of $6.48 billion, according to an LSEG-compiled consensus.

Profit was higher than the $5.1 billion of the second quarter, but marked a sharp decline from the $9.45 billion reported a year ago, when the Russia-Ukraine conflict bolstered oil and gas prices.

The company also announced a $3.5 billion share buyback to be carried out over the next three months. Shell CEO Wael Sawan said the $6.5 billion set for the second half of the year was now “well in excess” of the $5 billion announced in June.

“Shell delivered another quarter of strong operational and financial performance, capturing opportunities in volatile commodity markets,” Sawan said in a statement.

Free cash flow fell from $12.1 billion in the second quarter to $7.5 billion. Cash capital expenditure rose from $5.1 billion to $5.6 billion.

Energy majors are coming off the back of a record year for profits, which was fuelled by soaring fossil fuel prices.

Oil prices have again risen sharply through the third quarter 2023 on the back of factors including Saudi Arabian and Russian supply cuts, while the International Energy Agency has said oil markets will remain on edge amid the escalation in conflict in the Middle East.

BP on Tuesday posted a year-on-year fall in third-quarter profit from $8.15 billion to $3.293 billion, below analyst estimates, though France’s TotalEnergies slightly outperformed last week.

While BP said its muted quarterly performance was partly due to weakness in gas marketing and trading, Shell said performance in its integrated gas division was steady, noting favorable trading.

Shell’s renewables and energy solutions division meanwhile reported a $67 million loss, which it attributed to weaker margins due to seasonal effects and lower trading. Capital expenditure was $659 million.

The results come amid criticism over the pace of the company’s decarbonization program, including from groups of its own shareholders.

Shell confirmed last week that it will cut 200 positions within its low-carbon solutions unit in 2024.

“Another share buyback should be good news for shareholders, but there is little said about its plans to achieve net zero in today’s update – this remains a longer term concern for many, after the company announced its decision to focus on oil and gas production earlier this year,” Stuart Lamont, investment manager at RBC Brewin Dolphin, said in a note.

“With the geopolitical environment still volatile, oil prices look likely to continue recent rises which should mean a strong final quarter for Shell.”

London-listed shares of Shell were 1.1% higher at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday.

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