- Q1 production down 8.5 per cent
- Q1 underlying profit down 23 per cent YOY
- Profit up 14.3 per cent on Q4 2013
- Dividend of 9.75 cents, up 8.3 per cent
- Q2 production to be lower due to maintenance
Profits for the first quarter at BP fell 23 per cent year-on-year, slightly ahead of consensus forecasts, with both upstream and downstream businesses lower as the company continues its strategic realignment.
Underlying profit for the first quarter was $3.23bn, compared with $4.22bn a year ago and 4% ahead of consensus forecasts, somewhat flattered by a low average tax charge.
The group said results were hit by higher costs from exploration write-offs and depreciation, depletion and amortisation, lower liquids realisations and lower production, which were partly offset by strong gas marketing and trading results and higher gas realisations.
Production for the first quarter fell 8.5% to 2.13m barrels of oil a day.
Chief Executive Bob Dudley called the performance a "very solid start" to the year and pointed to strong operating cash flow, exploration success and upstream project start-ups, and the ramp-up of the upgraded Whiting refinery.
The FTSE 100 company pointed out that it has completed £7.6bn of its current $8bn share buyback programme, with divestments totalling over $3bn agreed toward a total target of $10bn by the end of 2015.
Including a small impact from the effects of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, net cash provided more than doubled to $8.2bn during the period, thanks to much lower working capital.
The board proposed a quarterly dividend of 9.75 cents per share to be paid in June, 8.3% higher than a year earlier.
Analysts at broker Investec said the dividend increase was perhaps shy of some forecasts but that cash flow was "seasonally strong" and "a good first step" towards BP's full-year target.
The broker said that the results were broadly in line with forecasts, with a strong oil and gas trading performance offsetting a weaker rouble and a $0.5bn write-off in the US.
Looking forward, Dudley said: "We expect material growth in operating cash flow, coupled with disciplined investment, to deliver sustainable growth in free cash flow. This will support increasing distributions to our shareholders. As well as progressive growth in the dividend per share, we expect to use surplus cash to support further distributions through share buy-backs or other mechanisms."
He said management remained confident of delivering their 10-point plan targets that it set in 2011 for delivery in 2014.
The company's outlook statement warned that second-quarter production was expected to be lower than the first quarter primarily due to planned major turnaround activity, mainly in the higher-margin North Sea and Gulf of Mexico regions.
"We expect the turnaround impact on production to be slightly less than the impact experienced in the second quarter of 2013," it said.
Shares in BP were up 1.2% to 494.3p by 13:00 on Tuesday.