Shell profit soars – but misses forecast

City A.M. Reporter
Royal Dutch Shell posted a near fivefold increase in fourth quarter net profit – powered by higher oil prices.

The company said fourth quarter 2010 earnings, on a current cost of supplies basis, were $5.7bn (£3.5bn) compared to $1.2bn a year ago when the company suffered heavy refining losses.

Excluding non-operating and one-off items, the result was $4.1bn, compared to an average forecast of $4.85 billion in a Reuters poll of seven analysts. Exxon Mobil reported a better-than-expected 53 per cent increase in quarterly profit on Monday, while Chevron said net income rose 73 per cent.

BP Plc, which is struggling to put the Gulf of Mexico oil spill behind it, reported a 34 per cent rise in Replacement Cost (RC) net income. The result would have been up only slightly were it not for $1.4bn in gains from asset sales.

RC and CCS net income strip out unrealised gains related to changes in the value of fuel inventories, so are comparable to U.S. net income.

Benchmark U.S. crude prices averaged about $85 per barrel in the fourth quarter, up from $76 in the fourth quarter of 2009.