Energy

Strong trading, LNG sales underpin Shell's first quarter profit

Key Points
  • Shell's first-quarter profits declined 2% to $5.43 billion, but still easily beat forecasts.
  • The decline was a result of lower chemicals and refining margins, lower oil prices and lower tax credits.
  • Stronger contributions from trading as well as increased LNG and gas prices gave the oil major a boost.
Royal Dutch Shell products in Torzhok, Russia.
Andrey Rudakov | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Royal Dutch Shell reported on Thursday a small drop in quarterly profits which still easily beat forecasts, helped by stronger trading and liquefied natural gas sales.

Shell's results outshine those of rivals Exxon Mobil, Chevron and BP which all saw sharp drops in profits in the first three months of the year as a result of lower refining margins and weaker crude and gas prices.

"Shell has made a strong start to 2019," Chief Executive Officer Ben van Beurden said in a statement.

"Our integrated value chain enabled our Downstream business to deliver robust results despite challenging market conditions."

Net income attributable to shareholders, based on current cost of supplies (CCS) and excluding identified items, fell 2 percent to $5.43 billion in the first quarter from a year earlier.

That topped a profit forecast of $4.54 billion, according to a company-provided survey of analysts.

Cash flow from operations in the first quarter of 2019, however, declined 9 percent to $8.6 billion including negative working capital movements of $3.5 billion.

The strong results build on a sharp rise in profits last year to $21.4 billion, their highest since 2014.

The decline was a result of lower chemicals and refining margins, lower oil prices and lower tax credits, Shell said. Those were partly offset by stronger contributions from trading as well as increased LNG and gas prices compared with the first quarter of 2018.