State-run oil producer, Saudi Aramco, has beaten analysts’ forecasts with a 30 per cent rise in its first-quarter net profit and maintained its dividend pay-out, helped by strong oil prices.
Net income rose to $21.7 billion for the quarter to March 31 from $16.7 billion a year earlier even though Aramco was expected to post net profit of $19.48 billion, according to an average of estimates by five analysts, Reuters reported.
“Given the positive signs for energy demand in 2021, there are more reasons to be optimistic that better days are coming,” Amin Nasser, chief executive of the world’s top oil exporter, said in a statement.
“And while some headwinds still remain, we are well-positioned to meet the world’s growing energy needs as economies start to recover,” he added.
Aramco, which listed in 2019 with the sale of a 1.7 per cent stake mainly to the Saudi public and regional institutions, said earnings were boosted by stronger crude prices and higher refining and chemicals margins, helping offset lower production.
The OPEC+ group, the alliance that comprises the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Russia and several other producers, had cut output to support prices but agreed on a plan in April to start gradually easing those curbs from May 1.
Aramco, which reduced its output as part of that pact and as a result of Saudi Arabia’s additional voluntary production cuts, said global demand for petroleum products was recovering from its lows in 2020 but remained below pre-pandemic levels.
Aramco declared a dividend of $18.8 billion for the first quarter, to be paid in the second quarter, in line with company guidance of a $75 billion dividend for this year.