BP profit more than doubles on stronger oil prices

  • The British oil giant posted first-quarter underlying replacement cost profit, used as a proxy for net profit, of $3.8 billion for the three-month period ending Sept 30.
  • Analysts at data firm Refinitiv had been expecting third-quarter net profit to come in at around £3.013 billion.
  • "Overall a good set of results with everything working well," Brian Gilvary, CFO at BP, told CNBC's "Squawk Box Europe" on Tuesday.

BP reported third-quarter profits more than doubled on Tuesday, underpinned by stronger oil prices.

The British oil giant posted first-quarter underlying replacement cost profit, used as a proxy for net profit, of $3.8 billion for the three-month period ending Sept 30. Analysts at data firm Refinitiv had been expecting third-quarter net profit to come in at around £3.013 billion ($3.847 billion).

In the third quarter of 2017, BP reported net profit of $1.865 billion.

"Overall a good set of results with everything working well," Brian Gilvary, CFO at BP, told CNBC's "Squawk Box Europe" on Tuesday.

Here are the key takeaways:

  • Underlying replacement cost profit, used as a proxy for net profit, came in at $3.8 for the three-month period ending Sept 30.
  • In the third quarter of 2017, BP reported net profit of $1.865 billion.
  • Dividend of 10.25 cents a share for the third quarter, 2.5 percent higher than a year earlier

Earlier this year, BP announced the acquisition of BHP's Billiton's shale assets for $10.5 billion. At the time, the oil firm claimed the purchase would allow it to beef up its U.S. business and increase earnings and cash per share.

The original deal was agreed with BP offering 50 percent cash and 50 percent shares for BHP Billiton's shale assets. However, the company announced it would now complete the transaction at the end of the month from available cash without resorting to a rights issue as planned.

Gilvary said this "simplified the transaction an awful lot."

Growing cash flow

Oil and gas production for the first nine months of the year rose to 2.5 million barrels of oil equivalent per day and was well placed to increase further, BP said, thanks in large part to its acquisition of BHP's U.S. shale business.

"Our focus on safe and reliable operations and delivering our strategy is driving strong earnings and growing cash flow," BP CEO Bob Dudley said in a statement.

"This progress all underpins our commitment to growing distributions for our shareholders."

Shares of BP rose more than 4 percent Tuesday morning.

The earnings beat comes against a backdrop of higher crude prices, as energy market participants monitor looming U.S. sanctions on Iran, OPEC's third largest oil producer, and keep a close eye on heightened tensions between Washington and Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporter.

"We believe it was another strong quarter for BP, with the company continuing to move in the right direction with solid production growth, aggressive cost cutting, and financial discipline, while improving operationally," Brian Youngberg, senior energy analyst at Edward Jones, said in a research note published Tuesday.

"While growth should be relatively robust in 2018 and into 2019, we still see its longer-term outlook as less attractive than its European peers, and we reiterate our 'Hold' rating with an appropriate valuation relative to 2019 cash flow," Youngberg said.

Oil prices

Oil prices have soared nearly 17 percent so far this year, although worries over the global economy have since put crude on track for its biggest monthly fall since mid-2016.

Speculation of $100 a barrel seems a distant memory, with Brent crude trading at $77.30 a barrel Tuesday morning, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) stood at $67.18 a barrel.

Nonetheless, despite a recent pullback in oil prices, the world's leading oil and gas companies are set to generate greater amounts of cash in 2018. It follows a sustained period of cutbacks in recent years.

"(Oil) prices may soften a little but I think they are going to probably stay over $70 a barrel in the short to medium-term," BP's Gilvary said Tuesday.

However, when asked whether he shared energy market concerns about the introduction of U.S. sanctions against Iran, Gilvary said crude futures could fluctuate wildly as these measures come into force.

"You're going to see oil prices move in the range of plus or minus $5, maybe plus or minus $10 a barrel off the back of any geopolitical uncertainties that we see going forward."

"And then of course you have also got the supply and demand shocks that may come off the back of sanctions," he added.

Correction: This story has been updated to show BP's third-quarter profits were just short of the average estimate from analysts at data firm Refinitiv.