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Will Low Oil, Gas Mar Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.A) Q1 Earnings?

Europe’s largest oil company Royal Dutch Shell plc RDS.A is set to release its first-quarter 2016 results before the opening bell on Wednesday, May 4.

In the preceding three-month period, The Hague-based supermajor posted a negative earnings surprise of 3.33% amid the continued plunge in commodity prices. This was partially offset by higher production.

As far as the earnings surprise history is concerned, the company has a mixed record: its beaten estimates in 2 of the last four quarters with an average beat of 9.16%.

Let’s see how things are shaping up for this announcement.

Factors to Consider This Quarter

Similar to other companies exploring for and producing oil and gas, the results of Shell’s upstream division are directly exposed to commodity prices. Consequently, with oil price collapsing to its lowest level in twelve years and natural gas mostly trading under $2 during the first quarter, the group’s revenues, earnings and cash flows are likely to be hit hard.

There are also signs of unexpected weakness in the refining business, suggesting that the unit – which had saved Royal Dutch Shell when crude prices plunged – could now be a drag.

Finally, following Shell's $50 billion mega acquisition of BG Group plc, we remain worried about the company’s rise in net debt and reduction of liquidity.

Earnings Whispers

Our proven model does not conclusively show that Royal Dutch Shell will beat estimates this quarter. That is because a stock needs to have both a positive Earnings ESP and a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), 2 (Buy) or 3 (Hold) to be able to beat consensus estimates. That is not the case here as you will see below.

Zacks ESP: Earnings ESP, which represents the difference between the Most Accurate estimate and the Zacks Consensus Estimate, is -11.54%. This is because the Most Accurate estimate stands at 23 cents, while the Zacks Consensus Estimate is pegged higher, at 26 cents.

Zacks Rank: Royal Dutch Shell carries a Zacks Rank #5 (Strong Sell), which further complicates the forecasting power of ESP.

As it is, we caution against stocks with Zacks Ranks #4 and 5 (Sell-rated stocks) going into the earnings announcement, especially when the company is seeing negative estimate revisions momentum.

Stocks to Consider

While earnings beat looks uncertain for Royal Dutch Shell, here are some firms you may want to consider on the basis of our model, which shows that they have the right combination of elements to post an earnings beat this quarter:

DCP Midstream Partners L.P. DPM has an Earnings ESP of +9.52% and a Zacks Rank #2. The company is expected to release earnings results on May 4.

Enable Midstream Partners L.P. ENBL has an Earnings ESP of +21.05% and a Zacks Rank #2. The company is anticipated to release earnings on May 4.

McDermott International Inc. MDR has an Earnings ESP of +100.00% and a Zacks Rank #3. The company is likely to release earnings on May 5.

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ENABLE MIDSTRM (ENBL): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
MCDERMOTT INTL (MDR): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
ROYAL DTCH SH-A (RDS.A): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
DCP MIDSTREAM (DPM): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
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