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Royal Dutch Shell reports Q4 net income increased 21% to $5.28 billion, for a calendar year 2006 profit of $25.44b. Excluding one-time items and changes in inventory values it earned $5.5b on the quarter, topping analysts' forecast. Oil and gas production rose 4.1% to the equivalent of 3.65m BPD despite disruptions at its operations in Nigeria. Shell lowered its '07 production forecast to 3.3m - 3.5m BPD, compared to 3.5m - 3.6m BPD previously. Royal-Dutch-Shell-RDSA-1yr-chart-01-31-07 Shell reported weakness in its refining business where profits fell 37% on an adjusted basis. It raised its Q4 dividend payout by 9% to €0.25/share and will pay its dividend in U.S.$ from Q1, at $0.36/share, or a 14% increase y-o-y. In pre-market trading Shell was up 1.64% to $69.37 after closing yesterday at $68.25.

Sources: Earnings release and 2007 strategy update, Bloomberg, MarketWatch
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Stocks/ETFs to watch: Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.A). Competitors: Exxon Mobile (XOM), PetroChina (PTR), BP (BP), Chevron (CVX), Total (TOT). ETFs: iShares S&P Global Energy (IXC), DJ STOXX 50 (FEU), iShares MSCI United Kingdom Index (EWU), BLDRS Europe 100 ADR Index (ADRU)

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Source: Shell: Positive Q4 Earnings Surprise and Dividend Hike