Oil giant Shell has a nasty surprise for the markets

A sign stands at a Shell gas station on October 31, 2013 in San Francisco, California. Royal Dutch Shell reported a 32% decline in third quarter profits with earnings of $4.5 billion compared to $6.5 billion one year ago. 

Royal Dutch Shell is Europe's biggest oil company, but had to warn the markets this morning that its profits for the fourth quarter were less than half what they were last year.

That was in an early earnings report that erased about $10 billion in shareholder value.

The BBC's Rob Young says this isn't good for the big man in charge. 

"It’s not a great start for Shell’s new Chief Executive Ben van Beurden. He’s only been in the job 17 days, and he says this isn’t what he expects. Shares fell four percent, wiping about $10 billion off the value of the company."

The company issued what's called a "profit warning" -- meaning it won't meet analyst's expectations.

The BBC's Rob Young, joined Marketplace's Lizzie O'Leary to discuss. 

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