Shell looks good, but how good?

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Great figures today from Royal Dutch Shell. Reserve replacement, which has caused Shell so many difficulties, was particularly impressive but much of this is down to Canadian oil sands which are only economic at high oil prices. Watch our energy editor, Ed Crooks, talk through the key points on FT.com (you can see the BBC training but if it looks like he’s squinting, it’s because he took his glasses off specially).

Less impressive news from AstraZeneca, whose full-year results today are broadly in line with expectations but whose guidance for 2007 is worse than expected. Buy-back news is supporting the share price today. Lots to ask the company about acquisitions (another one today) and its drugs pipeline.

Pat O’Driscoll is stepping down as chief executive of Northern Foods thus proving the three year rule (that CEOs have three years to make a really positive difference or their time is up). Anthony Hobson, the chairman, insisted Ms O’Driscoll’s departure is amicable and told us that they had “had a hug” when the decision – apparently a joint one – was made. How sweet. The company is suspiciously tight-lipped about any pay-off.

Rio Tinto’s results, the last under Leigh Clifford, look a bit weaker than expected. The shares fell initially but have since bounced back.

Mitchells and Butlers, operator of the All Bar One and O’Neills pub chains, said it was uncertain whether consumer demand would continue to grow following recent rises in UK interest rates.

We’ll have another look at the Dow Jones story overnight about Sushil Wadhwani’s hedge fund firm closing its flagship global macro fund after performing poorly.

And of course we remain very interested in Torex Retail, which is the subject of an SFO and LSE investigation.

Rumour of the day: The market continues to bet on a J Sainsbury takeover, says Neil Hume, having seen it confirmed this morning that Lord Sainsbury’s blind trust has sold yet another chunk of shares, 40m this time. The trust now owns just over 13 per cent. The betting seems to be that when Lord Sainsbury is free to act on his own behalf again later this month he too will be happy to sell at these levels.

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