The BP Profit Engine Is Running at Full Throttle

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BP PLC (NYSE: BP) reported fourth-quarter and full-year 2018 results before markets opened Tuesday. For the quarter, the oil and gas supermajor posted adjusted diluted earnings per American depositary share (ADS) of $1.04 on sales and operating revenues of $75.68 billion. In the same period a year ago, the company reported earnings per ADS of $0.64 on revenues of $67.82 billion. Analysts had estimated earnings per ADS of $0.84 and revenues of $74.36 billion. One ADS is equal to six ordinary shares.

For the full year, BP reported earnings per ADS of $3.82 and revenues of $298.76 billion, compared to per-ADS earnings of $1.88 and revenues of $240.21 billion in 2017. Analysts were looking for revenues of $312.99 billion and earnings of $3.63 per ADS.

Replacement cost (RC) profit (essentially net income) soared from a loss of $583 million in the fourth quarter last year to $2.72 billion. For the full year, RC profit jumped from $2.76 billion to $9.99 billion. Underlying RC profit (adjusted net income) totaled $3.48 billion in the quarter, up from $2.11 billion a year ago. Full-year underlying net income rose from $6.17 billion to $12.72 billion.

BP completed $3.5 billion in asset divestitures last year and expects to divest another $10 billion in assets over the next two years.

CEO Bob Dudley said:

We now have a powerful track record of safe and reliable performance, efficient execution and capital discipline. And we’re doing this while growing the business – bringing more high-quality projects online, expanding marketing in the Downstream and doing transformative deals such as BHP. Our strategy is clearly working and will serve the company and our shareholders well through the energy transition.

BP’s price realizations for liquids rose from $56.16 a barrel in the fourth quarter of 2017 to $61.80 a barrel. Sequentially, realized prices on liquids dropped by near $8.00 a barrel. Natural gas averaged $3.23 per thousand cubic feet in the year-ago quarter, compared to $4.33 in the fourth quarter of this year. For 2019, BP expects production to rise as new major projects come online. First-quarter production is forecast to be flat sequentially at around 1.32 million barrels a day.

Downstream (refining) pretax profits increased by about 21% year over year to $2.14 billion. On an adjusted basis, refining profits increased from $2.11 billion a year ago to $2.17 billion. BP’s refining marker margin of $11.00 a barrel compared with $14.40 in the year-ago quarter and $14.70 in the third quarter of this year. The outlook for the current quarter calls for lower industry refining margins and narrower North American heavy crude oil discounts. That typically indicates lower downstream profits.

To date, BP has paid out almost $67 billion in pretax charges related to the disaster that claimed the lives of 11 workers and dumped millions of barrels of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010. In 2018, the company paid out a total of $3.2 billion and said it expects to pay an additional $1.9 billion in the current fiscal year.

BP’s organic capital spending totaled $4.4 billion in the fourth quarter. For the full year, capex totaled $15.14 billion, down from $16.5 billion in 2017.

BP’s ADSs closed up about 0.1% on Monday, at $41.39 in a 52-week range of $36.28 to $47.83. They traded up about 4% in Tuesday’s premarket session at $43.08. The 12-month consensus price target was $48.77 before Tuesday’s report.

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