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Moody's raises Shell's outlook to stable on projected financial profile recovery

Moody's upgraded Royal Dutch Shell plc's outlook to stable from negative as the rating agency projects continued improvement of the company's financial profile through 2019.

"We stabilized the outlook on Shell's Aa2 rating on expectations that its financial profile will improve into 2019 on the back of ongoing earnings and cash flow recovery and accelerated post-acquisition de-leveraging, funded by $30 billion of planned asset sales," said Elena Nadtotchi, vice president and senior credit officer at Moody's, in a June 8 news release.

Moody's expects that Shell's retained cash flow/net debt would surge to about 30% by the end of 2017 from 19% in 2016 and its leverage position would steadily improve into 2019, which offsets the increase in debt after its $54 billion acquisition of BG Group plcand the effect of lower oil prices.

Shell also expressed its commitment to prioritize debt reduction by executing its $30 billion divestiture program and planned growth projects, while lowering capital investment and operating costs, according to Moody's.

The rating agency affirmed Shell's Aa2 ratings on a strong business profile "characterized by the large scale and high degree of diversification of its reserves and production, large and resilient downstream operations, that supported earnings amid lower oil prices in 2015-16; as well as by its unique position as one of the world's largest producers and marketers of LNG," the release said.