BG Group offsets production drop with higher gas prices

Marion Dakers
GAS explorer BG Group beat analyst forecasts yesterday with a 13 per cent rise in fourth-quarter earnings, with higher gas and oil prices offsetting a dip in production.

Earnings for the last three months of 2010 rose 13 per cent to $1.06bn, (£659m) though pre-tax profit fell 2.7 per cent to $1.45bn on last year, including charges from disposals and impairments.

Revenues rose one per cent to $4.3bn, supporting an 11 per cent rise for the year to $17.2bn.

Production volumes fell slightly short of forecasts, falling two per cent in the quarter to 60.7m barrels of oil equivalent, but a 22 per cent rise in global gas prices more than made up for the drop.

The firm has raised its full-year dividend by 10 per cent to 21.6 cents per share and repeated its goal to grow by six to eight per cent a year until 2020 after raising estimates for its US shale gas and Brazilian explorations.

Morgan Stanley said: “Investors can focus on what is again an exceptionally positive strategy update… targets and resource numbers have not just been reiterated, but in many cases raised by some margin.”

BG shares rose 2.1 per cent to 1,470p.