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Shell’s warning signals pain not yet over for oil majors

Shell’s warning signals pain not yet over for oil majors

Dec. 21, 2020 12:45 PM ETRoyal Dutch Shell plc (RDS.A)By: Carl SurranSA News Editor17 Comments
  • Royal Dutch Shell’s (RDS.A -5.7%) update, saying it expects to write down the value of its assets by as much as $4.5B and warning of another set of poor earnings in Q4, is the first indication of another tough quarter for oil and gas producers that continue to struggle with weak demand as COVID-19 lockdowns hit economies hard.
  • Shell says its oil and gas production business should report a third straight quarterly loss while Q4 results from its trading operations – a bright spot earlier in the pandemic amid volatile oil prices – would come in “significantly lower” than in Q3.
  • The S&P energy sector (XLE -3.8%) is today’s worst market performer, and Big Oil names are getting trounced but have moved off day’s lows: XOM -2.9%CVX -1.9%BP -5.7%.
  • “The indicative guidance looks disappointing, particularly in the context of the strong run Shell has had in recent weeks,” RBC analyst Biraj Borkhataria says.
  • Cowen analysts maintain their Buy rating and $41 price target for Shell shares, as the reduced cash flow outlook is offset by today’s announced divestment, and as such the analysts retain their outlook that debt will hit target levels around year-end 2021 to enable buybacks in 2022.
  • Shell says the anticipated $3.5B-$4.5B writedown includes an impairment of its Appomattox deepwater oil and gas project in the Gulf of Mexico, as well as charges related to its refining operations and onerous gas contracts.
  • The latest writedown follows Shell’s $16.8B writedown in Q2 and a sharp cut in its price outlook.
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