Saudi Aramco Remains World’s Most Profitable Company

Saudi Aramco remains the world’s most profitable company, and paid out almost all its net income in dividends, despite the dwindling price of oil, Bloomberg reported.

Profit slid 12% to $46.9 billion in the first six months of 2019, the state-owned energy giant said in its first-ever half-year earnings report. That easily outstripped corporate titans such as Apple, Amazon, and other big oil producers, many of which suffered larger declines in profit as output and crude prices fell.

“We have some of the largest and most productive reservoirs on Earth,” Khalid Al-Dabbagh, senior vice president for finance, strategy and development, said in an interview. The company’s “unrivaled financial results” amid lower oil prices are “a testament to our resilience.”

Aramco paid out $46.4 billion in dividends in the first half. That included a $20 billion special payout to its owner, the Saudi government, which compares with a $6 billion payout last year. That’s of particular interest to potential investors ahead of an initial public offering planned for 2020 or 2021, though it may not be maintained, according to money manager T. Rowe Price Group.

“We still don’t really have clarity on the dividend policy,” Willem Visser, a credit strategist at T. Rowe Price, said after Aramco held its first-ever earnings call. Looking ahead, “it will probably be in line with other oil companies at about 50% of net income.”

Aramco, officially known as Saudi Arabian Oil Co., published annual financial statements for the first time in April, ahead of a $12 billion bond sale. It’s now preparing for what could be a record IPO, putting the Damman-based company under even greater scrutiny from investors and inviting comparisons with other oil majors.

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