Mining, oil and metals giant Glencore posted record profits last year on soaring demand for energy products, saying Wednesday that it will pay out more than $7-billion to shareholders.
The Baar, Switzerland-based company said business rebounded from lows during the coronavirus pandemic and rode a spike in demand for oil and natural gas after Russia invaded Ukraine.
Net income soared nearly 250 per cent to $17.32-billion last year, Glencore said. Revenue rose 26 per cent to $255.98-billion.
Record profits from energy giants like Shell, BP and ExxonMobil last year have stirred calls for those companies to do more to reduce high utility bills for households and businesses and invest more in efforts to cut climate-changing emissions.
The surge in cash generation narrowed Glencore’s net debt to $100-million, “allowing for today’s announcement of $7.1-billion ... of shareholder returns” through cash distributions and a share buyback program, CEO Gary Nagle said in a statement.
He also pointed to some potential upsides ahead, including China lifting tough zero-COVID restrictions. That’s despite higher inflation and interest rates that present “some risk” to the economic forecast this year.
“China’s reopening, however, together with a continued global focus on energy security and decarbonization (and) electrification, mean that demand for many of our commodities is likely to remain healthy, while supply constraints persist and inventories remain relatively low,” Nagle said.
Glencore also could benefit from U.S. legislation that directs new spending toward technology meant to reduce carbon emissions and a European Union plan to favor greener policies.
Such initiatives “demonstrate the growing need for critical raw materials through to the end of the decade and beyond, necessitating fresh investment in both primary supply and recycling,” Nagle said.
Glencore’s record profits come after it reached a deal with authorities in the United States, Britain and Brazil last year to resolve corruption and market manipulation allegations in return for penalties totaling up to $1.5-billion.