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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
Jan 28, 2021 - Economy & Business

Apple raked in $111 billion in revenue in a single quarter

Expand chart
Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

Big Tech had a strong start to earnings season, as the S&P 500's heavy hitters reported Wednesday after market close.

What happened: Spurred by strong sales of the latest iPhones, Apple had its strongest quarter ever, raking in $111.4 billion in revenue for the three months ended Dec. 31, far outpacing expectations.

Jan 27, 2021 - Technology

Facebook stock whipsaws amid ad targeting concerns

Photo Illustration by Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Facebook's stock showed volatility in after-hours trading Wednesday, despite adding users and beating on top and bottom lines.

Why it matters: Investors seem spooked by proposed changes to user data collection by Apple that would impact Facebook's ad business, in addition to perennial threats of new federal privacy regulations.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jan 27, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden to sign major climate orders, setting up clash with oil industry

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Biden will sign new executive actions today that provide the clearest signs yet of his climate plans — elevating the issue to a national security priority and kicking off an intense battle with the oil industry.

Driving the news: One move will freeze issuance of new oil-and-gas leases on public lands and waters "to the extent possible," per a White House summary.