BP flags possible dividend boost as profits surge

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British energy major BP said Tuesday that first-quarter net profits soared 70 percent on rising crude oil prices and increasing output.

Stripping out one-off costs, underlying profits rose to $2.6 billion, up 71 per cent from $1.5 billion in the same period a year earlier and significantly ahead of market expectations of $2.2 billion.

"Overall it was a very healthy set of results", said Martijn Rats, analyst at Morgan Stanley, which has a "neutral" recommendation on BP stock.

He added: "Our safe and reliable operations and strong financial delivery have continued into 2018". Bob Dudley, Group chief executive of BP said regarding to the recent data.

Total production advanced six percent to 3.7 million barrels of oil equivalent per day.

But the group continued to count the cost of its 2010 Deepwater Horizon tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico, with another $1.6bn (£1.2bn) forked out in the first quarter - including $1.2bn (£873m) for the final payment of its 2012 settlement with the Department of Justice.

Underlying RC profit per ordinary share was 12.98 cents compared to 7.74 cents a year ago.

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BP's solid first-quarter.

Shares surged to a fresh eight-year high of 548.4p at one stage after the update before edging back to remain flat.

Operating cash flow excluding Gulf of Mexico oil spill payments* in the quarter was $5.4 billion including a $1.8 billion negative impact from an increase in working capital ($1.7 billion after adjusting for inventory holding gains) driven by higher oil prices and seasonal inventory builds.

Moving through 2018 we're determined to keep delivering our operational targets and maintaining capital discipline while growing cash flow and returns. Natural gas averaged $3.50 per thousand cubic feet in the year-ago quarter, compared to $3.78 in the first quarter of this year.

Shares rose by more than 1 per cent in early trading.

BP's ADSs closed up about 0.8% on Monday at $44.59, in a 52-week range of $33.90 to $44.89.

Still, what investors are watching most closely is cash flow, as this is what pays the bills in oil and gas, not net profits that some observers have aptly noted can be adjusted to suit the reporting company's needs. Payments are expected to be just over $3 billion in 2018, weighted to the first half of the year.