Saudi Aramco earned $68 billion in the first nine months of the year, cementing its position as the world’s most profitable company, according to people familiar with the figures.
The state-owned oil producer disclosed the unaudited net figure to financial analysts working on its planned initial public offering, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information isn’t public. Aramco has not published comparative numbers for the same period last year and its media office declined to comment. The IPO process will begin on Sunday, Saudi television news channel Al Arabiya reported.
When the Saudi company disclosed financial results for the first time earlier this year, showing income of $111 billion for all of 2018, it vaulted to the top of the list of the planet’s highest-earning businesses. Its nine-month income alone exceeded the 2018 net posted by Apple Inc., the most profitable publicly traded company, and is more than the annual earnings of Exxon Mobil Corp., the biggest listed oil firm.
Saudi Arabia is lifting the veil on the financials of its crown jewel as it hurries to conclude what may be the world’s biggest share sale ever by the end of the year. Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman is counting on Aramco’s profit and the nation’s vast oil reserves to attract investors to the company’s IPO, which in turn will help fund his plan to overhaul the Saudi economy.
Vastly profitable though the company is, the Saudis have struggled to persuade investors to accept their valuation of $2 trillion or more. The IPO process will begin on Sunday and shares of Aramco will start trading on the Saudi stock exchange on Dec. 11, Saudi television news channel Al Arabiya reported on Tuesday. The company has pledged to pay a dividend of at least $75 billion next year.
The earnings cover a period during which the company was dealing with one of the biggest crises in its history. Aerial attacks on its facilities in September briefly slashed output by half. Aramco says it restored production shortly after that attacks and relied on crude in storage and swapped between different grades to honor all of its commitments to customers.