Tuesday was a bizarre one for Norway, a country that consistently places at the top of the United Nations’ human development rankings.
The Scandinavian nation’s human rights record was criticized during the UN’s Universal Periodic Review, by none other than Russia and, perhaps even more outrageously, the Kingdom of the Saudi royal family. Thankfully however, Norway’s Foreign Minister Borge Brende was on the scene to give a more or less appropriate reaction. In an interview ahead of the proceedings, he noted that “It is a paradox that countries which do not support fundamental human rights have influence on the council, but that is the United Nations.”
In any event, Norway had some good news on the day as well. The country’s partially state-run oil and gas giant Statoil ASA (STL) was watching its stock trade heavily upwards after releasing financial results for the recently-ended first quarter.
Indeed, during Q1 Statoil posted net income of $2.6 billion, or $1.26 per share, on revenues of $27.8 billion, compared to the prior year period during which net income was $2 billion, or $0.67 per share on revenue of $26.1 billion. The results also provided investors with a massive premium over analyst estimates of $0.62 per share.
The company’s doubling up on EPS estimates is the result of a confluence of factors. The recently-ended quarter saw North American gas prices twice as high as they had been in the prior year period, mostly thanks to the polar vortex that punished large swathes of the US with a harsh winter weather.
Statoil has significant holdings in the Marcellus shale, from which it delivers gas to market in both New York City and Toronto. The Marcellus is one of the few truly profitable shale gas plays, given the sheer enormity of the reserves it contains.
The North American results were also more than enough to make up for operational disruptions in Libya and Angola.
Heading toward the closing bell on Tuesday, shares for Statoil had jumped 4.40 percent to $30.07 a piece and on twice average volume, after establishing a new 52-week high of $30.38 earlier in the day.