FSA Coursework: Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell

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Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell

Importance of the Oil and Gas Industry

The oil and gas industry is considered to be the greatest sector in terms of dollar value. The industry employs a huge number of employees and generates revenues of billions dollars globally. The oil and gas firms, especially those that are the national oil companies in their region, contribute massively to the national GDP due to enormous benefits and profits that they bring to the country. Statistics reveal that the world consumes 30 billion barrels every year, mainly by the developed countries due to heavy industrialization. More specifically, oil energy consumptions vary from 40% for North America, 34% in Asia and Europe, 53% for the Middle East, 45% from South America, and 41% for Africa.

The U.S. oil industry comprises many companies engaging in exploration, refining, transportation, and marketing of oil products in domestic and international markets. Furthermore, it is categorized in three groups: downstream, midstream, and upstream. However, the U.S. oil industry has five major companies, which dominate the domestic market. Among the five big firms are Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell plc.

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Company Overview

Exxon Mobil

Exxon Mobil Corporation was founded in 1990 after the merger of Exxon and Mobil. The world’s seventh biggest company by income, Exxon Mobil, is similarly the biggest publicly- traded company by market capitalization. Exxon Mobil is the world’s biggest exploration company producing 3.921 million barrels daily, though it is significantly smaller, when compared with national companies (Werther & Chandler 2010, p. 56). It holds the largest inventory of resources and is considered one of the world’s biggest incorporated refiners, marketers of oil-based commodities, and chemical production. Around the world, Exxon Mobil markets its products, using brands like Esso, Mobil, Exxon Mobil Chemical, and Exxon.

Royal Dutch Shell plc

Royal Dutch Shell plc is a British-Dutch multinational oil and gas company, which was formed in the United Kingdom, but has headquarters in the Netherlands. Shell plc is coordinated in each territory of oil and gas industry, including production and exploration, refining, as well as marketing and distribution (Bakke, Klungs?yr & Sanni 2013, p. 166). Additionally, it has sustainable power source activities as biofuels, wind, and hydrogen. Shell has operations in more than 70 nations, the company produces around 3.7 million barrels of oil, and has 44,000 service stations around the world.

Financial Reporting Standards

Exxon Mobil

Exxon Mobil utilizes the FASB accounting standards when preparing financial reports for each fiscal year. Based in the United States, the FASB is a non-profit organization that is responsible for development of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles for the benefit of the U.S. corporations (Bentley, Omer & Sharp 2013, p. 784). Exxon Mobil changes on accounting depend on the FASB alterations or improvement of any clauses per see, and, consequently, the board is important in ensuring that its financial report truly reflects the company’s status. However, the FASB is different with the International Financial Reporting Standards in some aspects, though they have resolved to work together in some functions for the benefit of accounting uniformity.

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Royal Dutch Shell

Royal Dutch Shell prepared their financial reports according to the IFRS, as accepted by the European Union. Based in London, the IASB is known internationally for its independence and strictness in ensuring that all standards are followed. Consequently, they have been accepted in the United States as important accounting standards (Bentley et al. 2013, p. 785). The used standards have been interpreted by the IFRS committee, which is different from the FASB board. However, the financial report is filed according to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and it complies with the U.S. set rules for accounting.

Review Management

Outlook with Forecasts (Exxon Mobil)

The general company outlook is stable, as reflected by the Moody’s expectation and other economic forecasters in the market. The company’s credit metrics will improve from the low level experienced in 2016 to 2019. The company’s cash flow generation will significantly increase due to high commodity prices and continued cost reductions that will spur production globally. The firm also expects the debt levels to decrease over the years due to increased cash flow and improvement in asset sales, which will offset the costs in the company. Therefore, the company will have a stronger leverage than other companies in the oil and gas company industry (Brown & Dillard 2014, p. 948). However, the reserve replacement value is a challenge for the company due to the changing low oil and gas prices. The company’s capital budget increases every year.

Outlook with Forecasts (Royal Dutch Shell)

Forecasters expect the financial profile of the company to improve over the 2017-2019 due to the initiation of divestment program that is worth $30 billion and the continued recovery of the company’s operating cash flow and earnings. The company’s debt increased to $125 billion (40% increases) after it bought BG Group Plc. Moody outlook reveals that the company is stable, which infers that its leverage position will grow steadily over the coming years (Brown & Dillard 2014, p. 948). The company’s commitment to the debt reduction is, however, not showing significant success, although the company had initiated supportive credit measures, which are aimed at increasing cash flow generation. The credit measures included reducing operating costs, level of capital investment, and divestments.

Auditor Report

Exxon Mobil’s annual report was prepared by PWC, while Royal Dutch Shell’s was prepared by Ernst & Young. Both companies provided unqualified opinions, which infer that the annual reports were prepared according to the accepted accounting standards set by the FASB and IASB. Therefore, both companies have exercised good internal controls that infer that financial controls are in a good place.

Financial Risk Factors

No. Financial Risk Factors Risk Mitigation-Exxon Mobil Risk Mitigation- Royal Dutch Shell
1 Interest Rate Risk Purchased floating rate securities Purchased futures contracts on government bonds or interest rate futures.
2 Foreign Exchange Risk Hedging currency transactions Forward foreign exchange
3 Liquidity Risk Diversification Minimizing debt
4 Credit Risk Risk-based pricing Credit tightening
6 Foreign investment Risk Currency forward contracts Currency options give the investor the right, but not the obligation, to buy or sell a currency at a specific rate on or before a specific date.


Business Risk Factors

Business risk refers to the factors that reduce profit of a company or alternatively causing a company to experience a loss (Coady et al. 2015, p. 17).

Both Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell face various business risks, which are summarized in the following tab.

No. Business Risk Factors Risk mitigations
1 Economic Factors Proper monitoring of financial statements to better manage the company over uncertainty.
2 Competitive Factors Development of good marketing strategies to attract more consumers.
3 Political Factors Diversifying production activities to different countries, since it would help to reduce the impact of politics.
4 Technological Factors Development of systems and machines that will improve the efficiency of the company (Baaziz & Quoniam 2015, p. 47).
5 Regulatory Risks Monitoring authorities and ensuring they take part in the formation of laws. Provide feedback on the new laws that have been made.
6 Project Risks Formulation of methods for risk assessment, performance monitoring, and reporting of key projects.
7 Physical Risks Hedging the exposure.

Risk Management Framework

Exxon Mobil

The company’s size, solid capital structure, geographic assortment and the compatible makeup of Upstream, Downstream and Chemical firms diminish operational risks from fluctuations in interest rates, product prices, and currency rates of the company. Subsequently, the corporation makes little application of derivative instruments to alleviate the effect of such changes. The corporation does not involve itself in derivative activities or derivative trade, neither does it apply derivatives that have leverage aspects (Batkovskiy et al. 2016, p. 44). The corporation keeps up a framework of controls that incorporates approval, detailing and monitoring of derivative activities. Small derivative operations of the corporation represent no solid credit or market hazards to the running of Exxon Mobil, liquidity of financial status.

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Royal Dutch Shell

Royal Dutch Shell is exposed to fluctuations in interest rates, basically, because of its short term and long term debt with floating interest rates. The effect of 100-basis point adjustment in interest rates, influencing debt of the company would not be material to cash flow, fair value or income. The company’s cash balance was more than its total debt in 2004 and 2005. The corporation runs its operations in various foreign currencies and is liable to exchange rate hazards on cash flows that are associated with expenses, sales, as well as investment transactions.

The effects of changes in interest rates on the company’s geographically great deal of operations are regularly balancing in total amount. The corporation uses less currency exchange agreements, commodity forwards, and future agreements to alleviate the effect of fluctuations in value of currency and prices of goods (Chen, Chou & Huang 2016, p. 959). Subjections that are associated with company’s application of contracts are not substantial.

Business Prospects

Internal Factors

1 Drilling and production results
2 Changes in demand for Shell’s products
3 Reserves estimates
4 Liquidity
5 Internal management controls
6 Safety
7 Project management

External Factors

1 Economic factors influencing fluctuation of prices
2 Research and technology
3 Political factors
4 Regulatory laws
5 Risks of operations
6 Competition

Latest Updates

Exxon Mobil

· The immediate communities, facilitating the exploration and extraction of crude oil by Exxon Mobil in Akwa Ibom, want the headquarters of the company to be moved from Lagos and be situated in Eket.

· Exxon Mobil, together with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, have been looking for new means to grow the existing operational portfolio with an aim of increasing the amount of crude oil that is extracted and enough gas for power production (Delen, Kuzey & Uyar 2013, p. 3980).

· Exxon Mobil Corporation has recently declared to have made a fifth new oil disclosure, subsequent to have drilled the Turbot-1 well in Guyana.

· Exxon Mobil Corporation has recently reported an improved program to lessen methane discharges from its generation and midstream provisions over the United States.

Royal Dutch Shell

· Royal Dutch Shell, which employs 92,000 nationwide, has plans to lay off 400 employees in the Netherlands with the aim of changing to a simple company.

· The U.K. government has given Shell a 112m tax repayment last year.

· Top officials have recently admitted to an involvement in money laundering of Nigerian oil project worth ?1.3bn.

· Shell reports over 300% growth in profits with the rebound of oil prices.

Industry’s Analysis

5 Porter’s Analysis

Threat of new entrants

The oil and gas prices are volatile due to political and economic factors. On the one hand, there are negotiations on ways to better control the prices in OPEC and non-OPEC organizations, but frequently hurdles arise, as a result of conflicts between member countries. On the other hand, big oil companies, especially the national oil companies, spend a lot of money on research, which, consequently, lead them to have a competitive advantage over others.

Threat of substitutes

There are substitutes for oil products, which can be used as the alternative energy consumption source. The substitutes included biofuels, coal, nuclear energy, hydrogen, as well as wind and solar energy. However, these substitutes can only be used if there is heavy investment in research to come up with the ways of producing it efficiently (Esmaeili et al. 2014, p. 627). Therefore, the threat of these substitutes, dominating the industry as of now, is dismal.

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Bargaining power of customers

There are many buyers of oil and gas products globally. Notably, the bargaining powers of buyers are small, since nature of the industry does not allow it. Numerous benchmarks exist to track the prices of oil and gas globally (Fisher 2015, p. 56). Therefore, buyers do not influence the prices of oil from supplies, since the price will depend on the quality of purchase. If the buyer wants cheaper oil products, then its quality may be compromised.

Bargaining power of suppliers

The oil industry has national and international companies that are involved in all the chain of oil and gas segment. Some examples of national companies include Petrobas and Saudi Aramco, while international oil companies are Exxon Mobil and Shell. Therefore, the bargaining power of these companies is higher, since they are involved in all oil and gas sectors, which can influence prices of those commodities (Bodie, Kane & Marcus 2013). Alternatively, the oil producing countries formed a bloc called OPEC, which they uniformly agree on the standard barrel price and abide by that.

PESTLE Analysis

PESTLE Analysis PESTLE factors influencing oil and gas industry
Political OPEC regulations
Economic Interest rate and the price of oil barrel and dollar exchange rate
Social Urbanization
Technological New equipment
Environmental Geographical position, landform, and pollution
Legal Constitutions and international institutions

All in all, the significance of understanding macro-environment is important in economy, since these factors represent threats and opportunities of the economy segment.

Business Analysis and Its Driver

Global Economy- Global GDP Growth

The global economy has been growing every year, as seen by the steady growth of most economies in the world. The World Bank estimates that the world’s economy will grow at 2.7% in 2017 due to growth in manufacturing and trade, stable commodity prices, good financing conditions and rising the confidence of consumers (Bodie et al. 2013). The World Bank estimates that the developed countries will grow at 1.9%, while emerging market at 4.1%, which supports that there will be a growth of GDP.

USA Economy- Domestic GDP Growth

The U.S. domestic GDP growth increases at an average of 3% every quarter of the year, as estimated by the BEA. Private inventory investment increases yearly, although generally it does not affect the GDP. On the one hand, the U.S. economy has grown at 3.22 average rate from 1947 till now, signifying that the economy is stable for investment. On the other hand, the growth of personal expenditure, as well as fixed investments contributed significantly to the steady growth of the economy.

Sources of Revenue (Segmental Analysis)

Both Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell derive their main income from oil and gas products. Exxon Mobil revenue segments are divided into five – downstream, upstream, chemical, Brent, and others. Royal Dutch Shell revenue segments are divided into five: integrated gas, downstream, upstream, chemical, others, and brent.

Revenue and Its Growth

Exxon Mobil’s revenue has been decreasing from 2011 to 2015 due to low production costs and low commodity prices.

Royal Dutch Shell

The revenue in each of the regions has decreased since 2011 to 2016 due to a number of economic and political factors.

Companies’ Financial Statement Analysis

Common-Size Financial Statement

Financial Ratios: Liquidity Ratio

Current Ratio

Exxon Mobil Corp.’s current ratio is less than one, except in the year 2012, while Royal Dutch Shell’s currency is above 1 throughout the period (2012-2016). Therefore, this means that Exxon Mobil‘s current liabilities exceeded the current liabilities, while Royal Dutch Shell utilized its current assets well, since it is more than current liabilities.

In comparison, Royal Dutch Shell has a higher liquidity than Exxon Mobil, since it has a higher current ratio. Consequently, Royal Dutch Shell can be able to manage its daily operations more efficiently.

Efficiency Ratio

Total Fixed Asset Turnover

Both companies have a stable total fixed asset turnover, although it has been decreasing from 2012 to 2016. The reason for the decreasing trend is the reduction of net sales and increasing net property, plant, and equipment.

Royal Dutch Shell has performed better in utilizing its fixed assets to generate revenue, since it has higher total fixed asset turnover throughout 2012 to 2016. Moreover, the chart shows that Royal Dutch Shell has spent more capital on increasing its PPE, which is a good sign of financial health.

Solvency Ratios

Debt Ratio

For the past five years, the debt ratios for these two companies have increased. The cause of the increasing debt is that both companies have increased the amount of debt, which they used to advance their operational activities or as capital expenditures.

Both companies have low debt ratio, since both ratios are less than one, which infer that both companies have less financial risks (Shuen, Feiler & Teece 2014, p. 5). However, Royal Dutch Shell used more debt to fund its assets, which is good evidence that the company is growing.

Debt –to-Equity Ratio

On the one hand, the debt-to-equity ratios for both companies have increased throughout the past five years. On the other hand, Royal Dutch Shell (RDS) has a higher debt-to-equity ratio, when compared to Exxon Mobil. This shows that the Exxon Mobil used less debt, as compared to RDS.

Throughout five years, RDS utilized more leverage than Exxon Mobil. However, the debt level for firms is not worrying, since the companies have the significant net return.

Profitability Ratios

Return on Assets

The return on assets for two companies has decreased from 2012 to 2016. The decreasing return of assets is due to the reduction in the net income for both companies. However, Exxon Mobil has a higher return on assets, when compared to that of RDSA (Goldemberg et al. 2014, p. 70).

In comparison, Exxon Mobil is a more viable investment to investors, since it has a higher return of assets, which infer that the company generates more revenues, using its assets.

Return on Equity

The returns on equity for two companies have decreased in the past five years. Comparatively, RDSA has a higher return on equity than Exxon Mobil.

Therefore, the chart reveals that Exxon Mobil is effective in utilizing equity financing, when funding the company’s operations.

Return on Capital Employed

The two companies have experienced a drop in return on capital employed over the past five years. Exxon Mobil has a higher return, when compared to RDSA.

Therefore, Exxon Mobil can use its capital more efficiently, especially in the design of its long-term strategies (Herbert & Rothwell 2015, p. 67). However, the cause of decline of the return is due to the falling net operating profit due to the decreasing net sales.

Investment Ratio

Earnings per Share

Both the Basic EPS and the diluted EPS reveal that Exxon Mobil has higher earnings, when compared to RDSA. There is a slight drop in the EPS due to decrease in earnings over the last five years.

Enterprise Value (EV)/EBITDA

Both companies had a strong share price, which caused EV/EBITDA to increase every year. However, RDSA had a higher EV/EBITDA due to improved EBITDA and market capitalization.

P/E Ratio

Both companies have had steady P/E ratio, though in 2015 and 2016 Exxon Mobil had the highest due to the increased share price (Rothaermel 2016, p. 233). The higher P/E in 2015 and 2016 infer Exxon Mobil investors will take some time to recover their original investments. Also, the high P/E ratio means that Exxon Mobil is overvalued, although it has good management.

SWOT Analysis

Exxon Mobil

Strengths 1. Global brand 2. Many products 3. CSR programs
Weaknesses 1. Low commodity prices 2. The company has not developed alternative energy product 3. Conflict with environmental groups
Opportunities 1. High demand for fuel 2. Develop solutions faster
Threats 1. Strict environmental laws 2. Greater competition 3. Economic instability

Royal Dutch Shell

Strengths 1. Strong brand 2. Technology 3. Financial growth 4. Co-branding with Ferrari 5. Operations in over 100 countries
Weaknesses 1. Strict laws 2. Bad environmental image 3. Bad corporate communication
Opportunities 1. High demand for fuel 2. Acquisition of other companies
Threats 1. Fluctuating commodity prices 2. High competition 3. Strict environmental laws

Analysis of Recent Share Price

Shell Historical Share Price

Royal Dutch Shell is currently trading at $60.92 per share; the stock has a high of $61.42 and the low of $48.07. Based on this share price, the market capitalization is $254.2B. The share price grew steadily from 2012 to 2014, from which it began to drop to a low of $30 on September 2015 (Exxon Mobil Corporation 2017). Since then, the share price has grew and stayed in the range of $48-$61. The drop of the share price from 20154 onwards was due to the increasing debt levels, as well as high commodity prices.

Exxon Mobil Historical Share Price

Exxon Mobil Corporation is currently trading at $82.41 per share; the stock has a high of $90.09 and the low of $66.56. Based on this share price, the market capitalization is $349.18B. The share price grew steadily from 2012 to a high of $95 on 2014 July from which it began to drop to a low of $63-$67 on August 2015. Since then, the share price has grown and stayed in the range of $78-$93. The high share price is due to the increasing dividend payout and improved earnings.

Modigliani and Miller (MM) Capital Structure Theory-Structural Analysis

The market value of Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell are influenced by their earning power, as well as the risks of assets used in the company (Rajan, Reichelstein & Nezlobin 2014). Therefore, MM theory depicts that both companies’ market value is unaffected by the capital structure of the company, since investors do not examine how the companies finance investments or carry out dividend payouts. Consequently, firm’s leverage or debt level do not impact the market value, rather it is the operating profit of the company.

Financial Position Analysis

Exxon Mobil

Exxon Mobil has a good balance sheet, since its total assets are twice as much as its total liabilities (Michael et al, 2015, 186). The financial position is satisfactory, as evidenced by stability of shareholder’s equity. Moreover, the company has consistently retained profits, which infer that the company can invest in available opportunities.

Royal Dutch Shell

Royal Dutch Shell has a weak position, since the company is using debt to finance its sustainability and growth (Liang et al. 2016, p. 572). However, the company has spent a lot in capital expenditures, which will influence future business prospects. Moreover, the company has constituently retained profits, which infer that the company can invest for future.

Corporate Governance

Exxon Mobil

Exxon Mobil’s operations are overseen autonomously under the instructions of the governing body. Great corporate governance in the company enhances good environment that promotes financial growth, as well as long term investments (Wright 2016, p. 45). Exxon Mobil encourages multi-stakeholder commitment with the aim of enhancing transparency of the government income generated from extractive industries (Hollensen 2015, p. 85). Since public policy choices arrived at all government ranks can bear an impact on the ongoing and future activities, Exxon Mobil liaises its stand to the state laws, global governments, as well as the U.S. Congress. The Energy aspect in the company is an online capital encompassing technology and inventions, which assist in fulfilling future energy needs.

Royal Dutch Shell

The company’s principles stand on integrity, respect and honesty. The core values are important in all operations of the business and outline, what is expected of all the stakeholders (Lukason, Laitinen & Suvas 2015, p. 66). Also, employees of the company are guided by the code of conduct and, hence, are able to perform excellently. According to Royal Dutch Shell, corporate governance is all about ensuring that the company meets high quality safety and health on the ecosystem, as well as in the interrelationship between local communities (Yusuf et al. 2016, p. 234). The company has set up viable and coherent governance systems, together with performance standards.

Corporate Social Responsibility

Both companies perform activities, which aim at improving the common good for society by undertaking its work in an environmentally friendly and safe environment. The products are offered at competitive prices (Landerretche et al. 2017, p. 596). In essence, the companies provide fuel, which is important in ensuring that the economy production is going on well. Exxon Mobil has provided products to satisfy people’s needs, thus creating a more viable community for everyone. The company has embraced corporate policy on important public issues, such as corruption and bribery and, due to this, the company has supported international supports in this field.

Companies’ Evaluation

Corporate Failure Prediction: Z-Score Mode

Altman-Z score model is important in examining stability of the company and the likelihood of bankruptcy.


Royal Dutch Shell

Based on the z-score, Exxon Mobil is financially sound, since its score is 3.14. However, Royal Dutch Shell score of 2 reveals that the company is likely to be bankrupt within two years.

Forecasting Based on Trend Analysis

Exxon Mobil

Analysts use the S&P facts to forecast Exxon Mobil share forecast at a high estimated of 100.00 and a low of 70 (Summary Annual Reports 2016). The median target is 81.50. The EPS forecast is $0.84 and sales at $63.9B.

Royal Dutch Shell

Analysts forecast Royal Dutch Shell to have a high of 73.79, a median of 64.60 and a low estimate of 49.72. The forecasts are based on S&P index growth that is supported with earnings growth.

Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM) Theory

For this case, the weighted average cost of capital is computed using the CAPM theory and the formula below:

Royal Dutch Shell Royal Dutch Shell
Rf 2.35 0.5
B 1.19 0.65
Rm 6% 6%
Rs 1.057 1.0647

Forecasted 12 December 2017 Royal Dutch Shell PLC: 1.0647* 61.04 = $64.98929

Forecasted 12 December 2017 Exxon Mobil Corporation: 1.057* $82.30 = $86.9911

Based on the CAPM model, Exxon Mobil Corporation share price ($86.99) is higher than that of Royal Dutch Shell PLC ($64.99). Considering that the maximum consensus price for Exxon Mobil for 2017 is $100, then investment in Exxon Mobil Corporation is viable.

Conclusion with a Recommendation

Despite the constant fluctuation of oil and gas prices and tough economic times, it is highly recommendable to purchase Exxon Mobil Shares based on the above analysis. Exxon Mobil has a healthy financial status, greater market capitalization, and high value, as supposed by the valuation ratios above. The company’s expansions and diversifications have strengthened its capacity and widened its market. Moreover, the steady increase in the dividend payout and earning power has contributed to its success, as a viable investment choice between the two.


a. 5-Year Summary of Consolidated Income Statement

b. 5-year Summary of Statements of Financial Position

c. Financial Ratios

1. Liquidity Ratio

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2. Solvency Ratio

Debt Ratio

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3. Profitability Ratio

Return on Assets

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Return on Capital Employed

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4. Investment Ratio

Price per share

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