Saudi Aramco earned US $68 billion in the first nine months of the year, consolidating its position as the most profitable company in the world, according to people familiar with the figures.
The state oil producer disclosed the unaudited net figure to financial analysts working on its planned initial public offering, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is not public. Aramco has not published comparative numbers for the same period last year and its press office declined to comment.
When the Saudi company revealed financial results for the first time earlier this year, with profits of US $111 billion for all of 2018, it jumped to number one on the list of the companies with the highest profits on the planet. Only its nine-month revenue exceeded the net 2018 figure recorded by Apple, the most profitable publicly traded company, and exceeded the annual earnings of Exxon Mobil, the largest publicly traded oil company.
Saudi Arabia is lifting the veil over the finances of its most valuable possession, as it rushes to conclude what could be the world’s largest sale of shares by the end of the year. Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman has the earnings of Aramco and the nation’s vast oil reserves to attract investors to the company’s IPO, which, in turn, will help finance its plan to reform the Saudi economy.
Although the company is very profitable, the Saudis have struggled to convince investors to accept their valuation of 2 billion dollars or more. The IPO process will begin on Sunday and Aramco shares will begin trading on the Saudi stock exchange on December 11, local 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 dealt with one of the biggest crises in its history. Air strikes at its facilities in September briefly reduced production by half. Aramco says it restored production shortly after those attacks and relied on stored crude and exchanges between different grades to meet all its commitments to customers.