BP fourth quarter profit falls 72% on Gulf fines, lower output
BY SELINA WILLIAMS
LONDON -- BP has posted a 72% drop in profit for the fourth quarter, as its production fell due to asset sales and it agreed to pay billions of dollars in fines to the U.S. government to settle criminal charges over the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Despite the sharp fall in earnings, BP Chief Executive Bob Dudley said the company was now on track to resume growth. "We have moved past many milestones in 2012, repositioning BP through divestments and bringing on new projects. This lays a solid foundation for growth into the long term," he said.
The London-based oil and gas giant said its replacement cost profit, a figure that excludes gains or losses in the value of inventories and is therefore equivalent to the net profit figure reported by U.S. oil companies, was $2.14 billion in the three months ended Dec. 31, compared with $7.61 billion in the fourth quarter of 2011.
Excluding the impact of one-off gains or losses from asset sales and the Deepwater Horizon settlement, the company's profit was $3.98 billion, down 20% on the year, but above average expectations of $3.373 billion in a Dow Jones Newswires poll of 12 analysts.
Fourth-quarter earnings were reduced by the sale of BP's interest in major Russian oil producer TNK-BP Ltd. to OAO Rosneft (ROSN.RS), which was agreed in October, BP said.
BP announced a quarterly dividend of 9 cents a share to be paid in March.
Excluding TNK-BP's output, total oil and gas production was 2.29 million barrels of oil equivalent per day, a 7% decrease on the year due mostly to divestments and in line with analysts' expectations.
Group revenues were $98.86 billion, compared with $96.34 billion in the fourth quarter of 2011.
Diluted earnings per share were 8.43 cents, compared with 39.99 cents the previous year.
BP shares closed up 0.4% at 463.99 pence Monday. The stock still lags behind its sector peers, almost three years after the Deepwater Horizon disaster, with many investors still wary of buying into the firm until the precise size of billions of dollars in potential fines becomes clearer.
Dow Jones Newswires