BP, Shell, Chevron and ​Exxon brace for worst reporting season yet

Jessica Morris
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INYT/Energy Intelligence Oil & Money Conference - Day 1
BP shareholders recently rejected Bob Dudley's £14m pay packet (Source: Getty)

It's about to go from bad to worse when BP publishes its first quarter results tomorrow, kicking off what analysts expect to be oil majors' worst reporting season yet.

Analysts expect the firm to post a loss of 10 cents per share for the first quarter of 2016, on an anticipated revenue drop of 26 per cent. It comes after BP made its worst annual loss in two decades last year, as low oil prices continued to bite.

"The first quarter 2016 reporting period looks set to be even worse than what we thought was already an especially ugly fourth quarter 2015," said Jason Gammel, equity analyst at Jefferies.

Read more: Here's what analysts think about BP's latest set of results

BP found itself at the centre of a remuneration row, with nearly 60 per cent of shareholders voting against chief executive Bob Dudley's $16.4m pay packet.

Crude prices have fallen from over $110 in the middle of 2014 forcing oil firms to axe jobs, cut costs and abandon exploration projects. The strain increased earlier this year when oil prices fell to a 13-year lows of $27 per barrel.

Analysts will be keen to see how much the recent uptick in oil prices has improved the dire predicament of oil majors. ​Exxon Mobil and Chevron, the two largest US oil companies, will report on Friday. They're due to be followed by Shell on 4 May.

This reporting season will also take place amid the threat of further downgrades by credit ratings agencies. The collapse in oil prices has eaten into firms' cash flows, making it harder to meet their debt repayments.

Read more: Where big banks think the oil price is heading next

Moody's recently cut the credit ratings of Shell and Chevron as part of its industry-wide review triggered by lower for longer oil prices. It affirmed BP's rating saying its credit metrics and business profile compared favourably to those of its peers.

Investors will also be watching for signs oil majors' dividend payments will be maintained. So far, only Italy's Eni and Spain's Repsol have scrapped dividends due to the current commodity price rout.

BP suggested it could reduce dividends this month, saying it aimed to maintain payments, but could review the payout policy if oil prices remained lower for much longer.