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Shell's (SHEL) Outlook for Q1: Chemicals Division Shines

Shell plc SHEL said that it anticipates a notable decrease in first-quarter trading results for its integrated gas division compared to the previous three-month period. Conversely, the company foresees a substantial improvement in the performance of its chemicals and products business, with anticipated reductions in losses for the unit compared to the final quarter of 2023.

Now, let’s dig into some other segment-wise selected items from Friday’s release.

Upstream

According to the latest update, Shell’s upstream production remained flat on a sequential basis in the first quarter of 2024 at the midpoint of the guidance. The supermajor is estimating its output in the range of 1,820-1,920 (thousand barrels of oil equivalent per day) MBOE/d compared to 1,870 MBOE/d in the fourth quarter of 2023. Tax charges are expected to hurt earnings in the range of $2.1-2.9 billion.

Meanwhile, Shell expects the share of profit of joint ventures and associates to be around $500 million. The segment’s results are also likely to include well write-offs to the tune of $600 million. Finally, operating expense for the segment is projected at around $2.55 billion.

Integrated Gas

Shell’s LNG liquefaction volumes are expected in the range of 7.2-7.6 million tons, translating into an increase of around 4.8% sequentialy. Shell’s integrated gas production is expected in the range of 960,000-1,000,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (BOE/d) or 980,000 BOE/d at the midpoint. It was 901,000 BOE/d in the October-December period. Per the company, first-quarter trading and optimization results in its integrated gas unit will be “strong” though it will be well below the fourth quarter of 2023, which was exceptional. Segment operating cost is expected between $1 billion and $1.2 billion.

Marketing

The midpoint of management’s marketing sales volume guidance is 2.350 million barrels per day, lower than the 2.508 million barrels achieved in the fourth quarter of 2023. Overall, segment profits are expected to be in line with the quarter-ago levels, while operating expenses would be between $2 billion and $2.4 billion.

Chemicals & Products

The company expects a steep upward trajectory in its Trading & Optimisation results from the fourth-quarter levels. Also, as projected by Shell, the refining margin should strengthen in the first quarter, with the metric improving 17.9% sequentially. Wth chemical margins also jumping 21%, realized chemicals sub-segment numbers are expected to be better than in the fourth quarter. Shell also forecast refinery utilization of 89-93%, operating expense of $2.5-$2.9 billion and chemicals manufacturing plant utilization of 71-75%.

Renewables and Energy Solutions

The adjusted bottom line of this segment is expected to hover between a loss of $100 million and a profit of $500 million.

Q1 Estimates

This company, is slated to release first-quarter 2024 results on May 2. The current Zacks Consensus Estimate for Shell’s to-be-reported quarter is a profit of $1.97 per share on revenues of $85.8 billion.

Zacks Rank & Stock Picks

Shell carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) at present. Meanwhile, investors interested in the energy sector might consider the operators mentioned below. These companies currently sport a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

SM Energy Company SM: SM beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate for earnings in each of the trailing four quarters. SM Energy has a trailing four-quarter earnings surprise of 14.2%, on average.

SM is valued at around $6 billion. SM Energy has seen its shares increase 73.2% in a year.

Murphy USA MUSA: The 2024 Zacks Consensus Estimate for MUSA indicates 3.4% year-over-year earnings per share growth.

Murphy USA is valued at around $8.7 billion. MUSA has seen its stock rise 61.3% in a year.

Global Partners LP GLP: Global Partners is valued at some $1.5 billion. The 2024 Zacks Consensus Estimate for GLP indicates 3.7% year-over-year earnings per unit growth.

Global Partners beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate for earnings in two of the trailing four quarters and missed in the other two, the average being 5.9%. GLP units have surged 47.4% in a year.

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