Shell to cut spending, step up disposals
Shell says it will increase the pace of asset sales, targeting disposals of $15 bln this year.
LONDON - Anglo-Dutch oil company Royal Dutch Shell on Thursday said it would step-up disposals and cut spending as it seeks to win back investors with a new focus on returns, less than two weeks after a shock profit warning.
Shell, the world's number three investor owned oil company, earlier this month issued a "significant" profit warning for the quarter to the end of December, detailing across-the-board problems just weeks into the tenure of new boss Ben van Beurden.
"Our overall strategy remains robust, but 2014 will be a year where we are changing emphasis, to improve our returns and cash flow performance," van Beurden said in a statement.
Capital spending will fall to $37 billion this year from $46 billion in 2013, Shell said, adding that for the time being it was also scrapping a controversial exploration programme in Alaska.
The company said it would increase the pace of asset sales, targeting disposals of $15 billion this year.
"We are making hard choices in our world-wide portfolio to improve Shell's capital efficiency", van Beurden said.
To entice investors, it plans to raise its first quarter dividend by 4 percent compared with the same period last year to $0.47 per share, in a move which it said reflected its confidence in its ability to boost free cash flow.
Fourth quarter earnings excluding identified items and on a current cost of supply basis came in at $2.9 billion, in line with a downgraded profit expectation it gave on 17 January, and making the quarter its least profitable for five years.