Shell Boosts Dividend After Beating Q1 Estimates

Royal Dutch Shell capped a strong first quarter reporting season for oil majors with better-than-expected results which were boosted by gas earnings, while shareholders were rewarded with a higher dividend.

Shares in the company were up more than 3 percent at 1303 GMT to be among the top performers in the FTSE 100.  

Shareholders have urged big oil companies such as BP and Shell to control spending and give back cash because of concerns over rising costs in the oil and gas industry. Shell is planning to divest $15 billion worth of assets in 2014/15 to improve profitability and payouts.

The company said on Wednesday its cash flow increased to $14 billion from $11.6 billion in the first quarter of 2013 and $6 billion in the fourth quarter of 2013.

That allowed the oil major to announce a first-quarter 2014 dividend of $0.47 per ordinary share, an increase of 4 percent year-on-year.  

Adjusted earnings, stripping out $2.9 billion of writedowns mainly related to refineries in Asia and Europe, beat consensus estimates by 51 percent, but were still down 3 percent from a year ago to $7.33 billion.

The first quarter reporting season for oil majors also saw rival BP raising its dividend for the second time in six months, Norway's Statoil beating expectations, Eni reporting results in line and France's Total disappointing with a profit drop.  

"We expect Big Oil to make a comeback in 2014," said analysts at Barclays, including Lydia Rainforth.


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