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BP Beats Forecasts, But Earnings Slump On Weak Oil, Refining Margins

BP (NYSE:BP) reported on Tuesday a third-quarter profit that beat analyst estimates, but weaker oil prices and sharply lower refining margins dragged its earnings down by almost a half compared to the third quarter last year.

Underlying replacement cost profit, BP’s definition of a net income, dropped to US$933 million for the third quarter from US$1.819 billion for the third quarter last year, “affected by a weaker price and margin environment”, BP said.

In comparison, analysts polled by The Telegraph had expected BP’s third-quarter profit to come in at only US$780 million, while the average estimate of 14 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg had anticipated the earnings to stand even lower at US$719.2 million.

Although BP beat earnings estimates at a consolidated group level, its upstream business suffered heavily from the ‘lower-for-longer’ oil prices. BP’s upstream segment booked an underlying pre-tax replacement cost loss of US$224 million, compared to a profit of US$29 million in the second quarter this year and a US$823-million profit for the third quarter of 2015. The oil major attributed the loss to weaker oil and non-US gas prices, lower gas marketing and trading results, and higher exploration write-offs and rig cancellation charges.

In the downstream, BP fared a little better, posting an underlying pre-tax replacement cost profit of US$1.4 billion, down from the profit of US$2.3 billion for the third quarter last year, and from the US$1.5 billion profit for the second quarter this year. The annual slump in profits was due to the “lower refining margin environment”, the group said.

Like many other supermajors, BP is continuing to slash capital expenditure, and its 2016 organic capex is now expected at around US$16 billion, down from the original guidance of US$17-19 billion set at the beginning of this year. BP currently sees next year’s capex in a range between US$15 billion and US$17 billion.

BP’s net debt as of September 30, 2016, was US$32.4 billion, compared with US$25.6 billion a year ago. Dividends, however, were kept in tact, with a third-quarter cash dividend of US$0.10 per ordinary share, and US$0.600 per ADS.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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