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Data reveals Aramco's huge profits

President and CEO of Saudi Aramco, Amin H. Nasser (R) delivers a speech during 2nd day opening session of 23rd World Energy Congress. Photo: Isa Terli/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Oil giant Saudi Aramco made nearly $34 billion in net income during the first half of 2017, making it the world's most profitable company, according to data viewed by Bloomberg News. Profits are also likely to be much higher this year thanks to increased oil prices.

Why it matters: The story reveals extremely closely held financial data as the state-owned Aramco readies what's likely to be the largest IPO ever, although the listing appears delayed until at least 2019 and is soaked with uncertainties.

One level deeper: According to Bloomberg, Aramco is nearly debt-free and "enjoys production costs running at a fraction of the industry standard." The company's per-barrel production costs are roughly $4, compared to around $20 for Exxon and Shell, according to Bloomberg, which notes the metric refers to oil, condensate and gas.

Yes, but: The story also explores data and various factors that may give investors pause.

  • They note that the government relies heavily on the revenues for social and military spending, which alongside cash flow and the kingdom's tax structure is "likely to limit the scope for dividend payments after a share sale."

Note: Aramco, in a statement to Bloomberg, called the information "inaccurate."