LONDON: Royal Dutch Shell reported on Thursday a small drop in first quarter profit to $5.4 billion, but still easily beat forecasts, helped by stronger trading and liquefied natural gas earnings.
Shell’s results outshone those of rivals Exxon Mobil, Chevron and BP which all saw sharp declines in profits in the first three months of the year as a result of lower refining margins and weaker crude and gas prices.
Shell shares were up 1.4 percent shortly after trading opened.
“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.”
Cash generation, which the Anglo-Dutch company has flagged as a key measure of its growth in the past, sagged 9 percent to $8.6 billion as a result of one-off charges.
Free cash flow — cash available to pay for dividends and share buybacks – dropped to $4 billion from $16.7 billion in the previous quarter and $5.2 billion a year earlier.
Shell has targeted free cash flow generation of $25 billion-$30 billion a year between 2019 and 2021.