Shell Plc’s fourth-quarter far exceeded expectations as its natural gas business thrived, lifting the oil major to a record performance in 2022 fueled by soaring energy prices.
After a bumpy ride earlier in the year amid volatile markets, Shell’s integrated gas unit was firing on all cylinders in the final part of the year, delivering almost $6 billion of adjusted profit in its strongest performance in at least a decade.
Flush with cash, the company kept up the pace of share buybacks by announcing a further $4 billion of purchases in the coming months, and went ahead with a planned 15% dividend hike. It’s a sign that Chief Executive Officer Wael Sawan, who took over the top job at the beginning of the year, will continue to prioritize using Shell’s riches to reward shareholders.
“We intend to remain disciplined while delivering compelling shareholder returns,” Sawan said in a statement on Thursday. “Our results in the fourth quarter and across the full year demonstrate the strength of Shell’s differentiated portfolio.”
Shell’s fourth-quarter adjusted net income of $9.81 billion was well ahead of the average analyst estimate of $7.97 billion compiled by the company. It posted a profit of $39.87 billion for the full year, beating the previous record of $28.4 billion set in 2008.
The earnings are the latest evidence of a blowout year for Big Oil, with Exxon Mobil Corp. also reporting a record annual profit in recent days. The companies’ performance has drawn scrutiny from governments around the world, whose populations are struggling with a cost-of-living crisis caused in large part by high oil and gas prices.