In a first, Saudi Arabia’s oil company Aramco has entered the new world order by becoming the first company outside America to breach the $2 trillion valuation mark. The company hit near-record levels on Wednesday during trading hours.
Aramco’s market cap value puts it just behind Microsoft and Apple as the world’s most valuable companies. It comes as crude oil prices climb to over $82 a barrel, the highest in seven years.
The post-Covid-19 world is witnessing a demand surge for energy, as the pandemic continues to curb travel and other key gas-guzzling sectors.
At present Aramco is mostly owned by the government of Saudi Arabia, with just under 2% of the company publicly listed on the Saudi Tadawul stock exchange. Aramco was trading at around 37.6 riyals a share, or a few cents over $10 a share, by midday Wednesday before dipping to 37.2 riyals a share, or around $9.92 a share. It remains to be seen whether it can hold this rally until trading closes.
According to Aramco, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is the architect behind the effort to publicly list a sliver of Aramco in late 2019, touting it as a way to raise capital for the kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund to then develop new cities and mega-projects across the country that create needed private-sector jobs for young Saudis.
The crown prince has long sought the mammoth $2 trillion valuations for Aramco. Despite fluctuations in Aramco’s yearly earnings, the company has stuck to its promise to pay an annual dividend of $75 billion until 2024 to shareholders, the biggest of which is the government.
Aramco produces the kingdom’s vast oil and gas products and receives directives on supply production each month from the Energy Ministry of Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s lynchpin nation. Demand for oil is forecast to hit 99 million barrels per day by the end of the year, and a little over 100 million per day next year.
Aramco raked in a net income of around $47 billion in the first half of 2021, double what it earned over the same period last year when the coronavirus grounded travel and pummeled global demand for oil. This put Aramco back squarely where it was before the pandemic struck and sunk earnings.