London — Royal Dutch Shell finally gave investors the share buybacks they have been demanding, even as profit fell short of expectations despite resurgent crude prices. The Anglo-Dutch energy producer said on Thursday that it is starting a $25bn share-repurchase programme, initially buying up $2bn of stock over three months. That should soothe investors who have grown increasingly anxious about when they’ll see the reward for sticking with Shell through the biggest oil-industry downturn in a generation. It wasn’t all good news, as adjusted net income for the second quarter of $4.69bn fell short of even the lowest analyst estimate. Its peers Equinor and Total nearly matched or exceeded profit expectations. Shell’s management resisted starting buybacks in the first quarter, saying its priority was paying down debt that ballooned after the more than $50bn acquisition of BG Group in 2016. Since then, crude has risen to a three-year high, cash flow has surged, and the company has made fu...

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