Shell quarterly profit jumps 140% after 'a year of transformation'

  • Net profit attributable to shareholders on a current cost of supplies (CCS) basis, used as a proxy for net profit, and excluding identified items, came in at $4.3 billion, versus $1.8 billion in the same quarter a year ago.
  • Shell Chief Executive Ben van Beurden said that despite "a year of transformation," the Anglo-Dutch firm had posted a "strong financial performance."
  • Shell's latest figures come amid a rapidly improving environment for big energy firms, with oil prices skyrocketing 50 percent since the middle of last year.
A driver delivers 7,500 gallons of unleaded gasoline to a Shell station in Peoria, Illinois.
Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images
A driver delivers 7,500 gallons of unleaded gasoline to a Shell station in Peoria, Illinois.

Oil giant Royal Dutch Shell reported profits more than doubled in the fourth quarter of 2017 on Thursday, supported by a recent rally in oil and gas prices.

Net profit attributable to shareholders on a current cost of supplies (CCS) basis, used as a proxy for net profit, and excluding identified items, came in at $4.3 billion, versus $1.8 billion in the same quarter a year ago. This compared to a company-provided analyst consensus of $4.24 billion. It was also slightly above Reuters estimates.

Shell Chief Executive Ben van Beurden said that the Anglo-Dutch firm had posted a "strong financial performance" during "a year of transformation."

"Our relentless focus on value, performance and competitiveness meant we were able to deliver $39 billion of cash flow from operations excluding working capital movements from our upgraded portfolio," he said in the earnings statement.

Shell's full-year net profit, attributable to shareholders on a CCS basis and excluding one-off items, came in at $15.8 billion in 2017 — an increase of 119 percent from the year earlier.

The oil major also reported a sharp rise in cash flow last year, after years of costs cuts and the acquisition of BG Group in 2016 came to fruition.

Improving environment for big oil

Shell's latest figures come amid a rapidly improving environment for big energy firms, with oil prices skyrocketing 50 percent since the middle of last year. International benchmark Brent crude has recovered strongly in recent months and reached a multi-year high of $70 a barrel earlier this month.

There are also signs the oil market is rebalancing, particularly as allied producers continue with an agreement to limit output.

In recent quarters, major oil companies have been eager to show investors that progress has been made when it comes to covering spending and dividends with cash generation. The price of oil collapsed from near $120 a barrel in June 2014 due to weak demand, a strong dollar and booming U.S. shale production and firms were forced to wrestle with their portfolios in order to try and become more competitive.

Late last year, the company reportedly said it expected changes to the U.S. tax system to have a "favorable" impact on its business operations. The change to U.S. tax legislation, enacted by President Donald Trump on December 22, was projected to have a significant effect on Shell's fourth-quarter results.

In the $1.5 trillion tax overhaul, the Trump administration slashed corporate tax rates to 21 percent, down from 35 percent.