(MENAFN - ProactiveInvestors - UK) Royal Dutch Shell (LON:RDSB, LON:RDSA) issues fourth quarter/full year results on Thursday which will also probably include an indication of its dividend payments for 2012.
Charles Stanley is tipping fourth quarter net income of US6.2bn and a dividend of 43 cents. Shell normally announces its quarterly dividend rate for the current year with the fourth quarter results of the previous year, and Charles Stanley is predicting a one cent hike for 2013 to 44 cents.
For the full year it has pencilled in net income of US25.bn, up a billion on the previous year.
"Although the group has successfully brought on stream some major projects (the big three are Pearl GTL, Qatar gas and Oil sands expansion) there has been delays in the ramp-up of Pearl and also in the start-up of the Port Arthur refinery. Similarly in terms of corporate developments it was a mixed year. On the one hand Shell exceeded its divestment target of 3bn with an outcome near 6bn but it failed to win the takeover battle for Cove Energy," notes Tony Shepard.
"Clearly, Shell is undertaking more exploration as is apparent with the bad publicity over its Arctic endeavours. Sequentially, the Q4 results may look dull with a potential net income lower than Q3's 6.6bn largely due to much lower refining earnings (Downstream). The Upstream activities should show progress compared to a year ago and sequentially," Shepard continued, adding that the important message from the fourth quarter update might come from guidance around the above issue.
Competing for attention on Thursday is Anglo-Swedish drugs giant AstraZeneca (LON:AZN). Consensus forecasts for its fourth quarter are: revenue of US7,283mln; operating profit of US2,186mln; earnings per share of 135 cents and a divi of 214 cents.
New chief executive Pascal Soriot is expected to give an overview of how he intends to revive Astra's waning fortunes as a prelude to a more detail strategy update in March.
With the recent departure of the heads of Research & Development and Commercial, UBS thinks big changes might be afoot.
"With new CEO Soriot and new chairman Johansson in place, Astra announced the departure of the heads of R&D and the head of Commercial. To us, this tilts the dynamic away from status quo and towards strategic change, starting by addressing leadership on key Astra issues (R&D productivity, Brilinta's launch). The moves eliminate a layer of management and enhance speed and accountability. We see this as a positive signal to announcements at the March strategy day," UBS said.