DUBAI, May 15 (Reuters) - State-owned oil producer Saudi
Aramco on Sunday reported an almost 82% rise in
first-quarter net profit, broadly in line with analyst
forecasts, helped by strong oil prices.
Aramco, which is at par with Apple Inc as the
world's most valuable company, reported a net income of $39.5
billion for the quarter to March 31 from $21.7 billion a year
The world's top oil exporter was forecast to post a net
income of $38.5 billion, according to a median estimate from 12
analysts provided by the company.
Aramco, which listed in 2019 with the sale of a 1.7% stake
mainly to the Saudi public and regional institutions, said its
earnings were the highest in any quarter since it went public,
boosted by crude prices, volumes sold and improved downstream
Earnings by global energy companies such as BP and
Shell have risen to their highest in at least a decade
on the back of rising commodities prices, even as many of them
incur mostly write-downs from exiting Russia.
Brent crude prices ended the first quarter up almost 70% to
$107.91 a barrel from end of March 2021.
OPEC+ agreed this month to another modest increase in its
monthly oil output target, arguing it could not be blamed for
disruptions to Russian supply that have driven up prices. It
also said China's coronavirus lockdowns was threatening the
outlook for demand.
"Our view is Brent will end up lower in the second half of
the year and so we are expecting (Aramco) earnings to pull back
and for the second quarter to be a peak," said Yousef Husseini,
associate director for equity research at EFG Hermes.
The company declared a dividend of $18.8 billion to be paid
in the second quarter, in line with market expectations, and
approved the distribution of one bonus share for every 10 shares
held in the company.
Aramco said it saw improved downstream margins in the first
quarter and is looking to develop opportunities in the
"During the first quarter, our strategic downstream
expansion progressed further in both Asia and Europe, and we
continue to develop opportunities that complement our growth
objectives," Aramco CEO Amin Nasser said in a statement.
Shares of the company have risen 37% since the start of the
year, outperforming the Saudi index which is up nearly 14%.
(Reporting by Hadeel Al Sayegh and Saeed Azhar; Editing by
Raissa Kasolowsky and David Evans)