Oil major misses estimates as profits plunge

The BP logo is displayed outside a petrol station near Warmister, on August 15, 2022 in Wiltshire, England.

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LONDON — Oil major BP on Tuesday reported a steep year-on-year fall in profits, missing analyst estimates.

The British energy giant logged underlying replacement cost profit, used as a proxy for net profit, of $3.293 billion in the third quarter. This was a drop from $8.15 billion over the same period last increase, but an increase from the $2.59 billion of profit recorded in the second quarter.

Analysts had expected profit to come in at $4.059 billion in the third quarter, according to a collection of estimates by LSEG.

BP’s London-listed shares were 4% lower at 10:38 a.m. London time.

Quarterly growth came from a rise in oil and gas production and higher realized refining margins, along with a “very strong oil trading result,” BP said. This was partially offset by a weak gas marketing and trading result.

The company flagged impairments of impairments of $1.2 billion, including a pre-tax $540 million impairment charge related to U.S. offshore wind projects.

Capital expenditure was $3.603 billion, compared with $4.314 billion in the previous quarter. Operating cash flow was higher both quarterly and year-on-year, at $8.747 billion.

BP also announced a $1.5 billion share buyback to be executed ahead of fourth quarter results.

“Looking divisionally, despite some solid operational indicators, earnings missed across all divisions,” Biraj Borkhataria, associate director of European research at RBC Capital Markets, said in a note.

Borkhataria added that while the headline 20% net profit miss may come as a surprise, BP has seen “exceptional gas trading results on several occasions in the last couple of years, including last quarter.”

The year-on-year profits of BP and other energy majors plunged in the second quarter, following weaker fossil fuel prices that have since risen sharply. BP and others reported record annual profits in 2022.

In its outlook, BP said it expected production restrictions from members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and demand rebound to support oil prices. It also anticipates industry refining margins wil be “significantly lower” in the fourth quarter.

BP was rocked in September by the sudden departure of CEO Bernard Looney, who resigned after admitting he had not been “fully transparent” in his disclosures about past relationships with colleagues, before taking the top job.

The role is being filled on an interim basis by CFO Murray Auchincloss.

“This has been a solid quarter supported by strong underlying operational performance demonstrating our continued focus on delivery,” Auchincloss said in a statement.

The company’s U.S. boss, Dave Lawler, announced his resignation shortly after Looney without providing further details.

Jamie Maddock, energy research analyst at Quilter Cheviot, said the third quarter results were disappointing at a time when there is uncertainty at the top of the business.

“The immediate impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine has now worn off, and while geopolitical tensions are rising elsewhere, they haven’t moved the needle in energy prices significantly for it to translate to BP’s bottom line,” Maddock said in a note.

“With central banks in developed economies determined to stay in a higher interest rate environment for longer and stump demand, it may be a volatile period for the oil and gas majors before we get any indication of a return to ‘normal’ economic conditions.”

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