By Arab News
By Frank Kane
Shares in Saudi Aramco on Wednesday surged on the back of soaring global energy demand, setting the world’s biggest oil company on course to be most valuable corporation on the planet.
Aramco’s share price on the Tadawul exchange in Riyadh rose to an all-time high of SR38 ($10.13), valuing the company at more than $2 trillion and closing the gap on Apple, currently the most valuable quoted company at $2.32 trillion.
Aramco is expected to overtake Apple in the next year. Analysts all forecast further rises in the share price as global oil demand and prices soar on accelerating economic recovery. The US investment bank Goldman Sachs set a 12-month target of SR45, which would place Aramco above Apple.
The mood at Aramco is buoyant. Announcing financial results a few weeks ago, company chief Amin Nasser said: “Our expectation is that the recovery will continue. We are seeing more openings of economies.”
At an energy industry forum this week, Nasser underlined Aramco’s self-confidence by reiterating plans to increase oil capacity to 13 million barrels a day — the highest in the world — and pledging further investment to give it even more firepower in global energy.
Aramco will publish third quarter results at the end of the month, with some analysts predicting an increase in dividend or a “special dividend” to shareholders on account of the strong trading conditions, which are likely to produce a big jump in profits.
“A dividend hike would make the shares even more attractive, and give it a big boost toward Apple. Tech stocks have had a long run but that may slow down,” one energy analyst told Arab News.
The main driving force behind Aramco’s rise has been the surge in oil prices this year, with the price of global benchmark Brent crude nearly doubling. Careful management by OPEC+, the oil alliance led by Saudi Arabia and Russia, has reduced the oil glut at the height of the pandemic recession, and rebalanced global markets.
Share prices of all the big oil companies have recovered along with the price of crude, but Aramco retained value better than the rest at the height of the oil crisis last year.
Goldman Sachs said: “In our view, Aramco stands out from the rest of the industry on quality and scale metrics.”