BG Group scraps final dividend as earnings take a pounding from low oil prices ahead of Shell merger

 
James Nickerson
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The BG Group ship 'Methane Jane Elizabet
BG Group is the latest in a string of companies to been hampered by falling oil prices (Source: Getty)

As with BP and Shell, BG Group's results were heavily affected by lower commodity prices, with earnings sharply down.

The figures

BG Group reported earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation for 2015 of $5.63bn (£3.87bn), down 39 per cent on the year before.

Meanwhile, earnings before interest and tax took an even harder hit, down 62 per cent to $2.43bn.

The company made a profit before tax for the full year of $2.97bn, up from a loss of $2.33bn a year ago.

BG Group also announced a loss before tax for the fourth quarter of $1.17bn, compared to a loss of $8.33bn a year ago.

And the company said there was "no final 2015 dividend".

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Why it's interesting

Well, it's not a surprise. As with other oil companies reporting this week, BG Group's earnings were severely hampered by the falling price of oil.

In fact, analysts had warned investors they should be ready for a "messy" set of fourth quarter results.

Read more: BG Group share price rises as shareholders back takeover by Royal Dutch Shell

But it's not all bad.

"On the face of it BG Group’s numbers are better than expected due to the fact it is less reliant on oil revenues than its peers, and in a way reaffirms the case for Shell's takeover for the company, as it looks to diversify away from its core oil business," said Michael Hewson, chief markets analyst at CMC Markets.

"The main concern remains the price tag and in particular how big any savings will be for the deal to start accruing value."

Read more: Is the BG-Shell deal offering value to investors?

Indeed, the company doesn't seem too disheartened: chief executive Helge Lund said he was pleased to have delivered operation performance for the year in line with guidance.

What may be more striking, compared to BP and Shell, is that BG Group has scrapped its final 2015 dividend. Instead BG shareholders will receive the final dividend that will be paid by Shell when the takeover is completed.

What BG Group said

Lund added:

The addition of new low cash cost volumes in Brazil and Australia and delivery of our operating and capital cost savings has helped to partly mitigate the impact of lower commodity prices.

This strong operational performance is the result of the capability and commitment of our teams across the organisation and we will deliver a high-performing business into the Combination with Shell.

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