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Saudi Aramco becomes most valuable company

SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) – Saudi Aramco on Wednesday dethroned Apple as the world’s most valuable company as surging oil prices drove up shares and tech stocks slumped.

The Saudi Arabian national petroleum and natural gas company, billed as the largest oil producing company in the world, was valued at USD2.42 trillion based on the price of its shares at close of market.

Apple, meanwhile, has seen its share price drop over the past month and was valued at USD2.37 trillion when official trading ended on Wednesday.

The sinking share price came despite Apple reporting better-than-expected profits in the first three months of this year amid strong consumer demand.

But, Apple warned that the China COVID-19 lockdown and ongoing supply chain woes would dent June quarter results by USD4 billion to USD8 billion.

“Supply constraints caused by COVID-related disruptions and industry-wide silicon shortages are impacting our ability to meet customer demand for our products,” Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri said on a conference call with analysts.

A partial view of Saudi Aramco’s Abqaiq oil processing plant. PHOTO: AP

The results looked good following stumbles by some Big Tech peers as growth from the stay-at-home demand amid the pandemic slows and companies confront rising operating and labour costs.

Saudi Aramco recently reported a 124-per-cent net profit surge for last year, hours after Yemeni rebels attacked its facilities causing a “temporary” drop in production.

As the world economy started to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic, “Aramco’s net income increased by 124 per cent to USD110.0 billion in 2021, compared to USD49.0 billion in 2020”, the company said.

The kingdom, one of the world’s top crude exporters, has been under pressure to raise output as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and subsequent sanctions against Moscow have roiled global energy markets.

Aramco president and Chief executive officer Amin Nasser cautioned that the company’s outlook remained uncertain due in part to “geopolitical factors”.

“We continue to make progress on increasing our crude oil production capacity, executing our gas expansion programme and increasing our liquids to chemicals capacity,” Nasser said.

On the results, for 2021, he acknowledged that “economic conditions have improved considerably”.

A strong rebound last year saw demand for oil increase and prices recover from their 2020 lows.