Royal Dutch Shell posts 36% rise in 2018 profits

Royal Dutch Shell reported a 36% increase in full-year profits for 2018 to $21.4bn on Thursday as it launched the next tranche of its share buyback programme.

Earnings in the fourth quarter, meanwhile, rose 32% to $5.688bn, as the company benefited from higher realised oil, gas and LNG prices, as well as stronger contributions from crude oil and LNG trading.

"Shell delivered a very strong financial performance in 2018, with cash flow from operations of $49.6bn, excluding working capital movements. We delivered on our promises for the year, including the completion of the $30bn divestment programme and starting up key growth projects while maintaining discipline on capital investment. We paid our entire dividend in cash, further reduced our debt and launched our share buyback programme, with $4.5bn in shares repurchased so far," said CEO Ben van Beurden.

The company said it would continue with a strong delivery focus in 2019, with a "disciplined approach" to capital investment and growing its cash flow and returns.

The Anglo-Dutch company said that total dividends distributed to shareholders in the fourth quarter were $3.9bn with $0.47 and $0.94 paid per share for Anglo Dutch Shell and American Depository Shares, respectively.

It also completed the second tranche of its share buyback programme in January, with 83.5m A ordinary shares bought back for cancellation for an aggregate consideration of $2.5bn. On Thursday, Shell launched the next tranche of the share buyback programme, with a maximum aggregate consideration of $2.5bn in the period up to and including 29 April 2019.