Shell, Nestle, Samsung profits go through the roof
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Shell profit rockets on high oil prices
British energy giant Shell said Thursday that its net profit soared more than five-fold to $18 billion in the second quarter, fuelled by resurgent oil and gas prices, and rewarded shareholders with another bumper buyback.
The surge in profits in the three months to June was partially attributable to a reversal of $4.3 billion in impairments after the company raised its forecasts for the gas and oil market.
"We delivered strong financial results," said chief executive Ben van Beurden alongside the results statement.
The London-listed energy major announced a $6-billion share buyback programme, having already returned $8.5 billion to shareholders.
Van Beurden warned also that "with volatile energy markets, economic turbulence and the ongoing need for action to tackle climate change, 2022 continues to present challenges to consumers, to government, and to companies".
Shell had rebounded into a $3.4-billion profit in second quarter of 2021 from a $18.1-billion loss in the same period of 2020 when it took a massive impairment charge on the Covid-ravaged oil market.
However, oil and gas prices have soared this year owing to the Ukraine war and after countries lifted pandemic lockdowns.
Gas prices, which sky-rocketed in March after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, are soaring once more this week after Moscow curbed crucial deliveries to Europe in recent days.
The world's energy majors are reaping the benefits of this year's surge in global oil and gas prices as a result of the war in Ukraine.
France's TotalEnergies said Thursday that net profit more than doubled in the second quarter to 5.7 billion euros ($5.8 billion) from a year earlier.
"The energy sector continues to ride high on the supply and demand imbalance caused by the crisis in Ukraine," said Laura Hoy, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.
The Ukraine war has meanwhile sparked an exodus of Western energy companies from Russia.
Earlier this year, Shell logged a first-quarter profit of $7.1 billion, despite taking a $3.9-billion charge on its withdrawal from Russian activities.
Nestle upgrades forecasts after strong first-half
Swiss food giant Nestle said Thursday it would raise its full-year sales forecast after price increases and cost-cutting contributed to a strong performance in the first six months of 2022.
"In the first half of the year, we delivered strong organic growth," chief executive Mark Schneider said in a statement.
"Our local teams implemented price increases in a responsible manner. Volume and product mix were resilient.
"We limited the impact of unprecedented inflationary pressures and supply chain constraints... through disciplined cost control and operational efficiencies," Schneider said.
Nestle said it booked group sales of 45.6 billion Swiss francs ($48 billion) in the period from January to June, an increase of 9.2 percent over the same period a year earlier.
At the same time, net profit declined by 11.7 percent to 5.2 billion francs as a result of one-off charges, higher taxes and asset writedowns, the statement said.
On the basis of its first-half performance, Nestle said it was now pencilling in full-year sales growth of seven to eight percent, compared with a previous forecast of five percent.
Full-year operating margin -- a key yardstick of profitability -- was projected to reach 17 percent, at the bottom end of the previous range of 17.0-17.5 percent.
South Korean chip powerhouse Samsung Electronics said Thursday that second-quarter operating profits were up 12.18 percent, with record profits in its system semiconductor division despite global supply chain woes.
The company's "system semiconductor businesses... achieved a record high quarterly profit," Samsung said in a statement, adding it had both expanded its product line-up and increased the supply of chips to global customers.
"Earnings in the Memory Business improved both year-on-year and quarter-on-quarter as the Company focused on meeting solid demand for servers," Samsung said.
In June, the company became the first chipmaker in the world to mass-produce 3-nanometre microchips as it sought to match and eventually outpace Taiwan's TSMC in the race to manufacture the world's most advanced chips.
The new chips will be smaller, more powerful and efficient, and will be used in high-performance computing applications before being put into gadgets such as mobile phones.
The vast majority of the world's most advanced microchips are made by just two companies -- Samsung and TSMC -- both of which are running at full capacity to alleviate a global shortage.
Samsung is the market leader in memory chips, but it has been scrambling to catch up with TSMC in its advanced foundry division, which makes high-tech microchips for other companies.
"Overall market demand declined from the previous quarter amid geopolitical issues and concerns over inflation on top of continued weak seasonality," it said.
"Profitability decreased from the previous quarter at some degree due to rising costs of components and logistics as well as negative effects of foreign exchange movement," it added.
But overall, the weakness of the Korean won against the US dollar benefited the company, it said in the statement, "resulting in an approximately 1.3 trillion won ($994 million) company-wide gain in operating profit compared to the previous quarter."
Weak chip market
Samsung's mobile business is "expected to improve in the second half of the year from the second quarter, which was heavily affected by external elements such as the war in Ukraine," Park Sung-soon, an analyst at Cape Investment & Securities, told AFP.
But decreased market demand for memory chips due to concerns over a possible global recession will hamper the company's profit outlook, he said.
"What determines Samsung's overall profit is its semiconductor business. With what's expected to be faltering demand for memory chips down the road, sales could weaken in the second half of the year."
Global demand for chips is "entering a period of weakness, which will persist through 2023," Richard Gordon, an analyst at research company Gartner, said in a report, according to Bloomberg.
"We are already seeing weakness in semiconductor end markets, especially those exposed to consumer spending."
The supply of memory chips has become an issue of global geopolitical significance recently, with leading governments scrambling to secure advanced chip supplies.
That was demonstrated in May when US President Joe Biden kicked off a South Korea tour by visiting Samsung's sprawling Pyeongtaek chip plant.
Russia's invasion of Ukraine has "further spotlighted the need to secure our critical supply chains", Biden said at the plant, underscoring the importance of bolstering technology partnerships among "close partners who do share our values".