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WSJ: Shell results show multiple strains, little wiggle room

  • In contrast with BP's (BP +0.2%) dividend hike and promise of asset sales earlier this week, Royal Dutch Shell's (RDS.A -4.5%) Q3 results show it has little wiggle room to dole out more shareholder goodies, WSJ's Helen Thomas writes.
  • Shell is set to generate operating cash flow of $40B-$45B this year, which may not cover its $42B outlay in net capital investment let alone $13B in cash dividends and share buybacks; annual cash flow needs to approach $50B in the next two years to assure its $175B-$200B target for cash generation during 2012-15.
  • Shell's best chance of improving its valuation is asset sales, Thomas writes; its ability to wrap up quick sales at decent prices will be the test of its willingness to make tough decisions about where to invest its capital.
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