BP share price climbs as it beats expectations

Emma Haslett
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BP Set To Reveal Fall In Profits
BP beat expectations despite low oil prices (Source: Getty)

Earnings at BP might have fallen in the second quarter, but that didn't deter investors, who were presumably grateful the company beat expectations - and pushed shares higher in early trading.

The figures

Underlying replacement cost profit, the industry's preferred measure, fell to $684m (£517.7m) in the second quarter, down from $1.5bn in the first quarter, but higher than analyst expectations of $500m.

The fall was largely down to a write-off of $753m on exploration in Angola. Operating cashflow rose by $3bn to $11.3bn in the first half of the year, although payments from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill rose by $1.8bn to $4.3bn.

Dividend remained unchanged at 10 cents per share.

Shares were up 3.5 per cent in mid morning trading at 461.2p.

Read more: These three scenarios show how we could hit peak oil demand as soon as 2025

Why it's interesting

It's a difficult time to be an oil giant: oil prices have been hovering around the $50 mark for months now, leaving oil companies (and the likes of Opec) looking for ways to cut costs, hence that Angolan write-off.

But today's figures suggest hope for BP, whose results come after Shell's similarly encouraging update last week.

The company's upstream operations were looking healthy, up 10 per cent in the second quarter on the same period last year, with "significant" gas discoveries in Senegal and Trinidad. Meanwhile, first-half earnings in its downstream fuels marketing campaigns were up 20 per cent.

The 2010 Gulf of Mexico disaster remains an albatross around BP's neck, pointed out Hargreaves Lansdown's Laith Khalaf: "Were it not for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill more than 7 years ago, BP would be in pretty good shape right now," he said.

"As it is, the Gulf of Mexico payments... continue to weigh on the group and are forcing it to take on an ever larger debt burden."

Still, at the very least today's figures should pour water on those Exxon takeover rumours...

What BP said

Bob Dudley, its chief executive, said:

We continue to position BP for the new oil price environment, with a continued tight focus on costs, efficiency and discipline in capital spending. We delivered strong operational performance in the first half of 2017 and have considerable strategic momentum coming into the rest of the year and 2018, with rising production from our new upstream projects and marketing growth in the downstream.

Read more: Oil prices near a two-month high as Opec sets another meeting

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