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Saudi Aramco to unveil first annual results since IPO

By AFP - Mar 14,2020 - Last updated at Mar 14,2020

This file photo taken on September 20, 2019, a general view of Saudi Aramco's Abqaiq oil processing plant on September 20, 2019. Energy giant Saudi Aramco said on March 11, 2020 it plans to raise its production capacity by one million barrels per day to 13 million bpd as a price war with Russia escalates. ‘Saudi Aramco announces that it received a directive from the ministry of energy to increase its maximum sustainable capacity from 12 million bpd to 13 bpd,’ the company said in a statement to the Saudi Stock Exchange (AFP photo)


RIYADH — Saudi Aramco is expected to announce a drop in profits as it unveils on Monday its first annual results since its listing, as the energy giant grapples with sinking oil prices.

The 2019 financial results follow an initial public offering (IPO) on the domestic stock exchange in December, which raised a record $29.4 billion from a sale of 1.75 per cent of the company.

In April 2019, the company opened up its accounts to ratings agencies for the first time, revealing a net profit of $111.1 billion for the previous year.

The announcement confirmed its status as the world's most profitable company.

On Monday, Aramco will reveal its full-year results directly to investors and the public for the first time — and it is expected to announce a drop in profits owing to lower crude prices.

The company's net profit for the first nine months of last year dived 18 per cent to $68.2 billion, as its revenue fell due to lower prices.

The energy giant remains vulnerable to oil price fluctuations.

"This is Aramco's first set of earnings as a public company," Ellen Wald, author of the book "Saudi Inc.", told AFP.

"The real questions and insight won't arrive until the next earnings call when we learn how Aramco dealt with the current oil market drama and Saudi politics."


Market turmoil 


As the coronavirus wreaks havoc in the global economy and oil prices, Aramco prepares to lift its crude supplies by 25 per cent to 12.3 million barrels per day from April as part of an intense price war against Russia.

It also announced plans to raise output capacity by one million bpd to 13 million bpd, a significant move that would require investments worth billions of dollars. 

The developments have sent oil prices sliding to $34 a barrel from around $65 at the time of IPO.

Forecasts for future crude prices and demand are also bleak.

In its latest monthly report, the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries lowered its forecast for global average daily demand by 0.92 million barrels to 99.73 million barrels.

"Energy analysts will be watching for Aramco's 2019 fourth quarter earnings but their minds will be on the first quarter of this year," Wald said.

Aramco shares rallied immediately after the listing on December 11, rising by 19 per cent to 38 riyals ($10.1) and temporarily lifting the company's valuation above the $2 trillion mark, which was sought by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.

But as oil prices tumble, Aramco shares have lost 29 per cent from its highest point, slipping below the listing price.

On Thursday, Aramco's market value dropped to around $1.55 trillion, but it still remains the world's largest publicly listed company.

Ahead of last year's IPO, Aramco pledged to distribute dividends of at least $75 billion every year until 2024 in a bid to lure investors. 

But shareholders, many of whom tapped lenders and sold personal assets to raise cash to invest in Aramco stocks, lamented the recent share drop. 

One Twitter user posted a photo of a stunned man sitting atop an empty safe deposit box.

By Anuj Chopra with Omar Hasan in Dubai

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