Jul 7, 2021

Shell: dividend dither sends muddled message

Shell used a pandemic-induced collapse in oil prices to reset an admittedly overgenerous payout. Ever since, a proportion of investors have signalled their displeasure by leaving Shell off their buy lists. At first-quarter results, Shell reiterated that once net debt dropped to $65bn the stated payouts from cash flow could begin. Few would have predicted that the Brent oil price would triple to more than $75 a barrel since Shell slashed its dividend by two-thirds. To keep investors on side during this transition, Shell knows it must pay them more - and get its message straight.

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