Monday 1 April 2019 4:57 pm

Saudi Aramco leapfrogs Apple to claim title as world’s most profitable company

Ol giant Saudi Aramco was today confirmed as the world’s biggest profit machine, making as much as Apple, ExxonMobil and Google put together last year.

The Saudi state oil company showed net income hitting $111.1bn, considerably ahead of second-place Apple on $59.4bn.

Aramco revealed the impressive state of its finances for the first time as the firm prepares to go to the markets to issue its first bonds.

As part of the bond issue ratings agencies Fitch and Moody’s released their first scores for the company.

Despite being largely on par with other oil firms, with considerably lower debts than many of its rivals, Aramco was marked down for its links to the Saudi regime, the agencies said.

Moody’s gave the firm an A1 rating, while Fitch classed it as A+, both significantly lower than their top AAA rating.

However, both recognised that the firm was, on its own, worthy of a higher score. Fitch said its “standalone profile” was a AA+ rating, while Moody’s said that it “has many characteristics of a AAA-rated corporate.”

The ratings give lenders an indication of how well-positioned firms and government are to pay back their debts.

The strong ties between the Saudi government, led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and Saudi Aramco means Aramco’s rating is tied to that of the gulf state, Moody’s said.

The firm generates around 70 per cent of its country’s budget revenue proceeds, and it has been helped by recent tax cuts.

“A change in rating outlook on the government of Saudi Arabia would be mirrored on Saudi Aramco’s rating outlook,” Moody’s said.

It comes as Aramco is looking towards a public float of around five per cent of its shares.

The firm has $48.8bn in cash at the end of 2018, Moody’s reported, while cash flow from operations hit $121bn and it spent $35.1bn on capital expenditure while paying out $58.2bn in dividends.