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Shell raises its dividend as profits increase

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By Ron Bousso and Shadia Nasralla

LONDON (Reuters) – Royal Dutch Shell’s profits leapt to $3.23 billion in the first three months of the year and the energy company raised its dividend as planned but warned that the outlook remained uncertain due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Shell’s adjusted earnings were above an average analyst forecast of $3.125 billion and also ahead of earnings of $2.9 billion last year, boosted by assets sales as well as higher oil and liquefied natural gas (LNG) prices, it said on Thursday.

Sales of oil and gas assets in countries including Nigeria, Canada and Egypt added $1.4 billion to first-quarter profits.

Shell’s London-listed shares were up 1.2% at 0736 GMT, outperforming a 1% gain for the broader European energy index.

“The quarter proves without doubt that Shell’s earnings power is intact,” Bernstein analyst Oswald Clint said in a note.

Shell said its fuel sales fell 13% in the first quarter due to further lockdown measures and the impact of a Texas storm in February, saying there was still “significant uncertainty” over the outlook for demand in the second quarter.

 

Graphic: Shell’s earnings, https://graphics.reuters.com/SHELL-RESULTS/yzdpxbzadpx/chart_eikon.jpg

 

The Anglo-Dutch company raised its dividend by 4% as planned, the second increase since its slashed its payout by two-thirds at the start of last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Shell’s cash flow from operations, a key performance metric, rose to $8.3 billion from $6.3 billion, helping to reduce its debt to $71.3 billion.

Shell wants to get its net debt below $65 billion before starting to repurchase shares, part of its strategy to shift to low-carbon energy in the coming decades.

Norway’s Equinor also raised its dividend and posted a rise in first-quarter profits on Thursday.

Shell’s oil and gas trading operations, the world’s largest, did not boost revenue significantly in the quarter, unlike rival BP which reported “exceptional” revenue on Tuesday from its natural gas trading business.

Shell said its LNG trading was significantly below average in the quarter as a result of credit provisions following the storm in Texas, which triggered a massive state power failure and left millions of people without light, heat and water.

Shell’s fuel sales fell in the first quarter to 4.16 million barrels per day (bpd) but were expected to rise to an average of 4.5 million bpd in the second quarter.

Oil and gas production at Shell’s upstream operations fell 9% from a year ago to 2.46 million barrels of oil equivalent per day (boed) due to maintenance and disposals.

Output was forecast to decline again to 2.25 million boed in the second quarter due to lower seasonal gas demand and further asset sales.

 

Graphic: Shell’s oil and gas production, https://graphics.reuters.com/SHELL-RESULTS/nmovaagdnva/chart.png

 

 

(Reporting by Ron Bousso; Editing by David Clarke)

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Barrick Gold profit beats expectations as copper, gold prices surge

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JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) -Barrick Gold Corp reported a 78% jump in first-quarter profit on Wednesday, beating analyst expectations thanks to rising gold and copper prices, and said it was on track to meet annual forecasts.

Production in the second half is expected to be higher than the first, the gold miner said, thanks in part to the ramp-up of underground mining at the Bulyanhulu mine in Tanzania and higher expected grades at Lumwana in Zambia.

Barrick’s first-quarter gold production fell to 1.10 million from 1.25 million ounces due partly to lower grades at its Pueblo Viejo mine in Dominican Republic.

Adjusted profit surged 78% to $507 million in the quarter ended March 31, from $285 million a year earlier, and Barrick announced a 9 cent per share quarterly dividend.

Stronger prices helped boost Barrick’s revenue from its copper mines in Chile, Saudi Arabia and Zambia by 31% from the fourth quarter. Overall earnings per share were $0.29, ahead of analysts’ estimate of $0.27.

“We expect a positive stock reaction to the earnings beat and strong cash flow,” said Credit Suisse analysts.

POTENTIAL FOR SOUTH AFRICA MERGER

Barrick CEO Mark Bristow, who has championed mergers across the gold industry, said he backed the idea of South Africa-listed miners Goldfields and AngloGold Ashanti combining.

Speculation has been swirling around the two companies and Sibanye-Stillwater, whose CEO Neal Froneman floated the idea of a three-way merger in March.

“I’m a South African, and this country has such a great mining history and it would be great to see a real gold business come out of the many failed discussions that we’ve seen,” said Bristow.

Goldfields declined to comment. In a statement, AngloGold Ashanti said it was focused on delivering on its growth plan to unlock value from its portfolio of gold assets.

Bristow also said he had met with the Democratic Republic of Congo’s new mines minister and other officials and was continuing to work on getting $900 million belonging to its Kibali mine joint venture out of the country.

“We have a solution, it just needs to be sanctioned by the appropriate authorities which haven’t been around for a while,” he said, referring to a recent government overhaul by President Felix Tshisekedi.

(Reporting by Helen Reid in Johannesburg and Arundhati Sarkar in Bengaluru; editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Bernadette Baum)

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Loblaw gets quarterly sales, profit boost from online demand surge

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Retailer Loblaw Cos Ltd beat market estimates for quarterly revenue and profit on Wednesday, as its online sales more than doubled on soaring demand from homebound buyers for groceries and other essentials during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lockdowns and other virus-related restrictions in Canada, including reduced store capacity, during the first three months of the year pushed consumers to stockpile groceries and other essential items.

Loblaw, one of the biggest retailers in Canada, said that the momentum from the first quarter has continued into the current quarter, adding that it expects to exceed its own full-year profit expectations.

However, the company has warned that its food retail unit, which saw a surge last year at the peak of stockpiling, would not be as robust in the current quarter. In the first month of the ongoing quarter, food same-store sales have declined slightly, Loblaw said.

For the second quarter, the company expects to incur pandemic-related costs of about $65 million to $75 million, compared with $282 million a year earlier.

Net earnings available to its common shareholders rose to C$313 million, or 90 Canadian cents per share, in the quarter ended March 27 from C$240 million, or 66 Canadian cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding one-time items, the retailer earned C$1.13 per share, beating the average analysts’ estimate of 87 Canadian cents per share.

Its revenue rose to C$11.87 billion ($9.67 billion) in the first quarter from C$11.80 billion a year earlier, surpassing analysts’ estimate of C$11.72 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

($1 = 1.2277 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by Mehr Bedi in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)

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Bombardier in talks to amend bondholders’ agreement after breach claim on asset sales

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(Reuters) – Bombardier on Monday contested a bondholder’s claims that its recent sales of non-core assets breach the terms of certain notes, and said it would seek bondholders’ consent to amend terms on eight bond issues.

Bombardier has emerged as a pure play business jet maker after divesting assets including the sale of its transportation business to Alstom, which it completed in January, to pay down debt and boost earnings.

The company said it launched consent solicitations with respect to outstanding senior notes or debentures, following the claims by the unnamed bondholder that the asset sales constitute a breach of certain covenants under the indenture governing the 2034 notes.

Bombardier said in a statement these claims are without merit and it has not breached any covenant, adding that after evaluating various options it had determined requesting bondholders to amend the terms of the bonds was the most “expedient and efficient path” to maintain value and protect itself and its stakeholders.

If the amendments are approved, Bombardier will make a consent payment of $1.25 per $1,000 principal amount for applicable series of notes, and C$1.25 per C$1,000 principal of Canadian dollar-denominated 7.35% debentures due 2026, the statement said.

Bombardier also flagged early first-quarter revenue that would beat analysts’ estimates, as rising vaccinations encourage wealthy travelers to return to flying.

Bombardier reports earnings on Thursday.

The jet maker said it expects first-quarter adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) from continuing operations of $123 million, above analysts’ average estimate of $89 million, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

The company expects business jet revenue to rise by 18% to $1.3 billion in the first quarter, from a year ago, beating Wall Street’s estimate of $1.18 billion.

Bombardier stock closed up 3.3%.

While deliveries are roughly the same, Bombardier’s product composition is shifting toward its flagship Global 7500 jets, a revenue driver.

Bombardier said it remains on track to deliver between 110-120 business aircraft in 2021. The company’s full-year deliveries fell 20% to 114 jets in 2020.

 

(Reporting by Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru and Allison Lampert in Montreal; Editing by Shailesh Kuber and Karishma Singh)

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