Oil giant Aramco reported a more-than 80% jump in net profit Sunday, topping analyst expectations and setting a new quarterly earnings record since its IPO.
The Saudi Arabian behemoth said net income rose 82% to $39.5 billion in the first three months of the year, up from $21.7 billion over the same period last year. Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast net income of $38.5 billion dollars.
The record quarter for Aramco comes amid a standout quarter for Big Oil, which is benefiting from a sharp rise in oil and gas prices. Aramco said its earnings were driven by higher crude oil prices, rising volumes sold and improved downstream margins.
“During the first quarter, our strategic downstream expansion progressed further in both Asia and Europe, and we continue to develop opportunities that complement our growth objectives,” Aramco President and CEO Amin Nasser said in the earnings release Sunday.
“Against the backdrop of increased volatility in global markets, we remain focused on helping meet the world’s demand for energy that is reliable, affordable and increasingly sustainable.”
With a market cap of around $2.43 trillion on Wednesday, Aramco last week surpassed Apple to become the world’s most valuable company. The companies’ market caps looked similar on Sunday.
Aramco stock is up over 15% so far in 2022. In March, the oil giant reported that its full-year profit last year more than doubled due to the ongoing rise in oil prices, driven higher by the Russia-Ukraine conflict, looming European Union sanctions on Russian oil and the prospect of tighter supply.
The Aramco results reflect an ongoing momentum in the oil and gas industry, which has benefited from a more-than 45% increase in prices since the start of the year. Earnings from Aramco’s global peers such as BP and Shell have hit their highest level in years, despite incurring write-downs for exiting operations in Russia following the war in Ukraine.
Aramco is rewarding investors as a result. The company said it would use $4 billion dollars in retained earnings to distribute bonus shares to shareholders — amounting to one share for every 10 shares held. It also kept its enormous dividend stable at $18.8 billion dollars, covered by a 68% year-on-year increase in free cash flow to $30.6 billion dollars.