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Royal Dutch Shell PLC sign. Photo: Aleksander Kalka/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Royal Dutch Shell reported a nearly $1 billion third-quarter profit Thursday, beating analysts' forecasts, and announced a slight increase in dividends.

Driving the news: Its stock is up 3% in premarket trading this morning but remains at roughly 25-year lows as the sector faces headwinds from COVID-19's effect on prices and demand.

  • The profit is higher than last quarter but still 80% below Shell's haul in the July-September period in 2019.
  • Shell increased dividends by 4% this quarter and vowed unspecified annual increases ahead, which follows the 66% cut six months ago.

Where it stands: Shell's announcement warns of "significant uncertainty in the macroeconomic conditions with an expected negative impact on demand for oil, gas and related products."

More broadly, the industry's market position has waned in recent years amid questions about future demand, pressure over climate change and other forces.

The big picture: Shell, like its peer BP, is cutting costs and jobs as it navigates COVID-19 and moves deeper into low-carbon sectors, though fossil fuels remain its dominant business.

  • Shell said decisions about its portfolio — like focusing its oil-and-gas production on nine "core" regions — will bring enough money to grow its low-carbon business while boosting shareholder payouts.
  • February will bring a "comprehensive" update on its repositioning and plans to be a "net zero" company by 2050, Shell said.

What's next: Exxon and Chevron report their earnings Friday.

Go deeper

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
Nov 3, 2020 - Economy & Business

Companies and insiders are holding off on stock buybacks

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Top executives at big companies known as corporate insiders bought back shares of their own firms' stock at the second lowest rate in at least two years last month, even as speculators continued to buy the dip.

Why it matters: Insiders are typically bullish on their own company and buy when prices fall, but declined to do so after all three major U.S. stock indexes fell by at least 2% during the month, the second consecutive month of declines. (The Dow fell 6%, its worst monthly showing since March's historic drop.)

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Nov 3, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Trump ramps up fossil fuel tweets ahead of Election Day

Data: Trump Twitter Archive; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

Trump's tweeting habits are one sign of how much the president hopes his strong support for fossil fuels will help get him over the top today.

Why it matters: Pennsylvania, a state critical to Trump's re-election chances, is the nation's second-largest natural gas producer. And polls show Texas, which is at the top in oil and gas production, is also in play this year.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Nov 4, 2020 - Energy & Environment

A look at Texas' energy complexities

Data: EIA; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

Texas went fairly comfortably red again, but it looked quite close for a while, and so now seems as good a time as any to look at the state's energy as well as political complexities.

The intrigue: Texas is increasingly no longer seen as only the oil patch, and it's a fascinating state to watch. That's especially the case at a time when the future of oil demand remains a question mark and more and more countries are vowing new steps on climate — regardless of U.S. policy.