BP Moves Beyond the Deepwater Horizon

08/03/2018 5:00 am EST

Focus: ENERGY

Ian Wyatt

Publisher & Chief Investment Strategist, Wyatt Investment Research

British energy giant BP Plc (BP) has finally increased its quarterly payment after a three-year hiatus. The improved quarterly dividend will be paid at $0.61 per share going forward, explains Ian Wyatt, editor of High Yield Wealth.

The past decade has been eventful for BP, which is to understand the obvious. Memories of the Deepwater Horizon tragedy are finally fading.

If your memory of Deepwater Horizon has already faded, we offer a refresher. It was an offshore oil rig leased to BP from Transocean (RIG). On April 20, 2010, during the final phases of drilling the exploratory well, a geyser of seawater erupted from the marine rise onto the rig.

This was soon followed by the eruption of an admixture of mud, methane, and water. The gas component of the slushy material quickly transitioned into a fully gaseous state. It then ignited into a series of explosions and then a firestorm that killed 11 people.

BP’s share costs related to the tragedy are finally subsiding. There surely have been costs. Reuters reports that BP has paid $63.4 billion in fines, legal settlements, compensation, and clean-up related to the disaster since 2010.

As the Deepwater costs soared, oil prices plummeted. West Texas Intermediate Crude was priced above $100/barrel to enter January 2015. It was priced below $30/barrel to enter January 2016. The dividend was at risk through 2016 and most of 2017. Thanks to aggressive cuts to capital spending, BP was able to maintain the dividend.

Improved operating efficiency has enabled management to right a very listing ship. BP’s operating margin is again positive after being negative in 2015 and 2016. The operating margin has trended higher over the past 18 months. The return to profitability has enabled BP to finally increase its dividend.

As the dividend goes, so goes the share price. We don’t expect to see BP’s share price to soar like a geyser on the improved dividend. We do expect the improved dividend to provide additional downside share-price support and more investor interest.

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