Shell announced its second-quarter earnings on Thursday, revealing a 56% decline in profit to $5 billion. The drop in earnings was attributed to falling oil and gas prices, as well as lower refining profit margins. As a result, the energy giant decided to scale back its share repurchase program.
While the earnings missed forecasts, they were consistent with the company’s performance two years ago. In 2022, Shell had experienced bumper earnings as energy prices surged following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. However, the current earnings reflect a return to more typical levels.
Despite the decline in profit, Shell remains committed to returning value to its shareholders. The company will continue its share repurchase program by buying back $3 billion in shares over the next three months, compared to $3.6 billion in the previous quarter. Additionally, Shell has raised its dividend to $0.33 per share, as previously announced in June.
Looking ahead, Shell plans to announce further share buybacks of at least $2.5 billion at its third-quarter results. Wael Sawan, Chief Executive Officer of Shell, emphasized the company’s focus on share buybacks due to the value they represent to shareholders.
The adjusted earnings of $5.073 billion fell short of analyst forecasts, which had expected $5.8 billion. In comparison to the previous year’s record quarterly earnings of $11.5 billion, and $9.65 billion in the first quarter of 2023, this quarter’s results indicate a notable decline.
In response to the lower results, Shell is taking steps to improve its performance and boost shareholder returns. This includes maintaining steady oil output, increasing natural gas production, and reducing investments in lower-return renewable energy projects.
The company’s shares dipped 1.7% following the earnings announcement, while the broader European energy index experienced a 1% decline.
The decline in earnings was mainly attributed to various factors, including lower liquefied natural gas (LNG) trading results, reduced oil and gas prices, lower refining margins, and decreased sales volumes compared to the previous quarter.
Energy prices, which surged in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, have significantly dropped this year as concerns about shortages have eased. Benchmark Brent crude prices averaged $80 a barrel in the second quarter of 2023, down from $110 a year earlier. Similarly, LNG prices fell from around $33 to $11.75 per million British thermal units (mmBtu).
Shell, being the world’s leading LNG trader, experienced a halving of earnings from its flagship division due to weaker trading performance.
Despite the challenges, Shell has managed to reduce its debt pile to $40.3 billion by the end of the second quarter, down from $44.2 billion three months earlier. This reduction in debt has lowered the company’s debt-to-capital ratio, known as gearing, by one percentage point to 17%.
Industry analysts, such as Giacomo Romeo from Jefferies, considered the second-quarter numbers as “fairly disappointing,” citing lower-than-expected earnings from the upstream and chemicals divisions, as well as weaker third-quarter guidance.
Shell continues to face market fluctuations and challenges, but the company remains determined to deliver value to its shareholders and work toward sustainable growth in the energy sector.