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Royal Dutch Shell Plc A Shares (RDSA) EUR0.07

Sell:1,418.80p Buy:1,419.40p 0 Change: 36.60p (2.65%)
FTSE 100:1.15%
Market closed Prices as at close on 14 May 2021 Prices delayed by at least 15 minutes | Switch to live prices |
Change: 36.60p (2.65%)
Market closed Prices as at close on 14 May 2021 Prices delayed by at least 15 minutes | Switch to live prices |
Change: 36.60p (2.65%)
Market closed Prices as at close on 14 May 2021 Prices delayed by at least 15 minutes | Switch to live prices |
The selling price currently displayed is higher than the buying price. This can occur temporarily for a variety of reasons; shortly before the market opens, after the market closes or because of extraordinary price volatility during the trading day.

HL comment (29 April 2021)

Royal Dutch Shell reported underlying first quarter profits of $3.2bn, up from $2.9bn last year and $393m last quarter. The improvement on Q4 2020 reflects higher prices, stronger margins and lower depreciation.

The Shell board announced a dividend of $0.1735 per share for the quarter, a 4% increase on last year. Shell will increase shareholder returns when net debt is below $65bn. Net debt currently stands at $71.3bn, down from $75.4bn at the end of Q4 2020, primarily due to an increase in free cash generation.

Shell shares rose 1.5% following the announcement.

Our View

Shell had set the stage for a worse-than-expected first quarter because of a winter storm in Texas. But the damage was limited to just $0.2bn. That's a lot of money for you and me, but for Shell it's important to focus on the bigger picture.

Shell was hit hard by the complete collapse of oil prices last year and the subsequent fall in global demand as economies round the world went into lockdown.

Oil majors like Shell are better placed than smaller rivals, but this was still cripplingly bad news for profits. Underscoring the severity of the situation, management cut the dividend for the first time since WWII. The dividend has grown in the most recent quarter - but it's from a far lower base, and investors will need to wait for debt to come down before seeing more meaningful growth. Although, dividends are not guaranteed.

The oil price has recovered more recently - taking some of the pressure off the group. Shell reckons $60 a barrel as a long-term average, but the oil price has been below that for large parts of the last 5 years, although it's slightly ahead at the moment.

Given the backdrop it's no surprise Shell is taking a hatchet to the cost base. Aside from cutting the dividend, the group is on track to take $3-4bn off operating costs over 12 months and 20% off planned capital investment. Despite those efforts, impairments to asset values have been pushing up gearing (debt as a percentage of total assets) in the short term, and restoring the balance sheet to good health is likely to soak up more cash going forwards.

The other major demand on the group's cash flow is a transition away from carbon intensive fossil fuels. However, the transition is slow, and we're not yet clear on the likely returns on investment. Profits will continue to be driven by oil & gas for years and perhaps decades to come.

Overall Shell has a tough time ahead. The group's resources are immense but not infinite, and it needs higher oil prices to be sustained before it can get back onto the front foot. While we think demand for oil will continue to strengthen as the world economy recovers from COVID-19, how long that takes and what scars Shell is left with remain to be seen.

Shell key facts

  • Price/Earnings ratio: 9.7
  • 10 year average Price/Earnings ratio: N/A
  • Prospective dividend yield (next 12 months): 4.0%

All ratios are sourced from Refinitiv. Please remember yields are variable and not a reliable indicator of future income. Keep in mind key figures shouldn't be looked at on their own - it's important to understand the big picture.

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First Quarter Results

Shell's Integrated Gas business reported a 28% increase in underlying profits to $1.4bn since Q4 2020, but a 34% fall compared with Q1 2020. The fall is primarily due to higher costs relating to credit provisions and lower contributions from marketing and trading.

In Upstream Shell's underlying profits were $963m, compared with $291m in Q1 2020 and a $748m loss in Q4 2020. The improvement primarily reflects higher realised oil prices, lower depreciation and the absence of unfavourable tax movements.

The Oil Products division reported $877m in underlying profits, up from $540m last quarter but down from $1.4bn a year ago. These results represent an improvement in refining margins, increased contributions from trading & optimisation and lower costs when compared to Q4 2020.

Profits in the Chemicals division rose from $148m a year ago to $730m, which is also an improvement on the $381m in Q4 2020. The improvements reflect stronger prices and, consequently, stronger margins.

Shell reported an underlying loss of $666m in its Corporate centre.

Free cash for the quarter came in at $7.7bn, down from $12.1bn a year ago, but up from$882m last quarter. Cash capital expenditure was $4.0bn, down from $5.0bn last year.

This article is original Hargreaves Lansdown content, published by Hargreaves Lansdown. Unless otherwise stated estimates, including prospective yields, are a consensus of analyst forecasts provided by Refinitiv. These estimates are not a reliable indicator of future performance. Yields are variable and not guaranteed. Investments rise and fall in value so investors could make a loss.

This article is not advice or a recommendation to buy, sell or hold any investment. No view is given on the present or future value or price of any investment, and investors should form their own view on any proposed investment. This article has not been prepared in accordance with legal requirements designed to promote the independence of investment research and is considered a marketing communication. Non-independent research is not subject to FCA rules prohibiting dealing ahead of research, however HL has put controls in place (including dealing restrictions, physical and information barriers) to manage potential conflicts of interest presented by such dealing. Please see our full non-independent research disclosure for more information.

Previous Royal Dutch Shell Plc A Shares updates

Data policy - All information should be used for indicative purposes only. You should independently check data before making any investment decision. HL cannot guarantee that the data is accurate or complete, and accepts no responsibility for how it may be used.


The London Stock Exchange does not disclose whether a trade is a buy or a sell so this data is estimated based on the trade price received and the LSE-quoted mid-price at the point the trade is placed. It should only be considered an indication and not a recommendation.

Trades priced above the mid-price at the time the trade is placed are labelled as a buy; those priced below the mid-price are sells; and those priced close to the mid-price or declared late are labelled 'N/A'.