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Photo: Nick Ansell - PA Images / PA Images via Getty Images

Royal Dutch Shell's profits, helped along by the rise in oil prices in recent months, more than doubled in the fourth quarter compared to the same period a year before, showing a net adjusted profit of $4.3 billion compared with $1.8 billion the same quarter a year ago, CNBC reports.

Yes, but: The Wall Street Journal (among others) reports that the company's cash flow was less than expected.

U.S. policy: The company took a $2 billion charge related to the effects of the new U.S. tax law. But that aside, CEO Ben van Beurden says the cuts in corporate tax rate are helpful, given that the company is investing roughly $10 billion annually in the U.S. over the next several years.

  • “That investment of course is going to be doing well in a much more advantageous tax environment," he told Bloomberg TV.

Big picture: The CEO, in the Bloomberg interview, chatted about the company's positioning in a world where oil demand could peak within a couple of decades.

  • Shell will continue its recent moves into electricity as part of the effort to have a "future proof" portfolio, he said. Last year Shell bought the electric vehicle charging company NewMotion and the British power company First Utility.
  • “We think the power business is going to be the fastest growing part of the energy system and just need to be part of that as well,” he said.

More results: ConocoPhillips also reported a huge swing back to profitability this morning, per Reuters: "The company posted fourth-quarter net income of $1.58 billion, or $1.32 per share, compared to a net loss of $35 million, or 3 cents per share, in the year-ago period."

What's next: ExxonMobil and Chevron report tomorrow.

Go deeper

Dave Lawler, author of World
36 mins ago - World

China's Xi Jinping congratulates Biden on election win

Photo: Paul J. Richards/AFP via Getty Images

Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a message to President-elect Biden on Wednesday to congratulate him on his election victory, according to the Xinhua state news agency.

Why it matters: China's foreign ministry offered Biden a belated, and tentative, congratulations on Nov. 13, but Xi had not personally acknowledged Biden's win. The leaders of Brazil, Mexico and Russia are among the very few leaders still declining to congratulate Biden.

Kendall Baker, author of Sports
1 hour ago - Sports

College basketball is back

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A new season of college basketball begins Wednesday, and the goal is clear: March Madness must be played.

Why it matters: On March 12, 2020, the lights went out on college basketball, depriving teams like Baylor (who won our tournament simulation), Dayton, San Diego State and Florida State of perhaps their best chance to win a national championship.

2 hours ago - World

Scoop: Israeli military prepares for possibility Trump will strike Iran

Defense Minister Benny Gantz attends a cabinet meeting. Photo: Abir Sultan/POOL/AFP via Getty

The Israel Defense Forces have in recent weeks been instructed to prepare for the possibility that the U.S. will conduct a military strike against Iran before President Trump leaves office, senior Israeli officials tell me.

Why it matters: The Israeli government instructed the IDF to undertake the preparations not because of any intelligence or assessment that Trump will order such a strike, but because senior Israeli officials anticipate “a very sensitive period” ahead of Biden's inauguration on Jan. 20.