Shell Profit Increases 33% on Higher U.S. Oil and Gas Prices

Jul 31, 2014 2:10 am ET

July 31 (Bloomberg) -- Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Europe’s biggest oil company, said second-quarter earnings rose 33 percent on higher U.S. energy prices and increased production.

Profit excluding one-time items and inventory changes gained to $6.1 billion from $4.6 billion a year earlier, The Hague-based Shell said today in a statement. That beat the $5.6 billion average estimate of 18 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

“Our assumption is that improved pricing and reduced Americas losses will see a marked uptick in year-on-year profits,” Lucas Herrmann, a London-based analyst at Deutsche Bank AG, said before the earnings release.

Chief Executive Officer Ben van Beurden, who took over from Peter Voser at the start of the year, is accelerating asset sales and reviewing spending plans to win investor support. He needs a return to profit in the Americas’ operation, where the company is deploying about $80 billion.

U.S. natural gas prices rose 14 percent and oil climbed 9.4 percent in the second quarter from last year on higher demand for fuels.

Net income rose to $5.3 billion from $1.7 billion a year earlier, according to Shell’s statement. The company pumped 3.077 million barrels of oil equivalent a day in the quarter, compared with 3.062 million barrels a year earlier.

BP Plc this week said second-quarter adjusted profit rose 34 percent after the London-based company started new projects in the Gulf of Mexico and Angola. France’s Total SA yesterday said earnings fell 12 percent amid record low production and a slump in refining margins.

Exxon Mobil Corp. based in Irving, Texas and Houston-based ConocoPhillips report later today.

“The new CEO set a multi-year journey at Shell to improve returns,” Bertrand Hodee, an analyst at Raymond James Financials Inc. in Paris, said before the earnings release. “Within the ‘Fix or Divest’ approach, we expect more write- offs” and “tough portfolio choices on development options.”

Van Beurden has already agreed to sell more than $10 billion in assets including the latest plan to trim its holding in Australia’s Woodside Petroleum Ltd. Shell has set a disposal program of about $15 billion through 2015.