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Shell has financial wherewithal to defend dividend, says UBS

“Respecting and sustaining the dividend in cash and not reverting to scrip is an important input into the quality of the payout, in our view,” UBS added

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UBS reckons Royal Dutch Shell PLC (LON:RDSA) will be able to defend the dividend through the current period of “cyclical weakness” having spoken the oil giant's investor team in the wake of Monday’s plunge in the oil price.

In a pre-arranged meeting, Shell’s team said there was around US$4bn flexibility in the company’s sustaining capital expenditure (capex), which means it is cash neutral into the “US$40s” a barrel oil price range.

That’s still well above the current Brent spot price of just over U$$37 a barrel.

However, the Swiss bank reckons “modest disposal activity and some balance sheet capacity” will help defend the Shell dividend.

“Respecting and sustaining the dividend in cash and not reverting to scrip is an important input into the quality of the payout, in our view,” UBS added.

Shell and its UK rival BP (LON:BP.) saw their share prices shattered on Monday after the Saudi Arabia-led OPEC cartel started flooding the market with cheap oil.

It followed a stand-off with Russia, which refused to cut production in order to get the price up.

At one point the price of a barrel of crude oil was down 30% in a bloody session.

In late morning trade, the Shell share price had rebounded just over 11%. BP, the most leveraged of the super-majors, was up 8%.

Quick facts: Royal Dutch Shell

Price: 1282.8 GBX

LSE:RDSA
Market: LSE
Market Cap: £100.47 billion
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