What’s going on?
BP announced stronger-than-expected second-quarter earnings on Tuesday, and the British oil major laid out plans for dividends and buybacks that its rivals will be hoping to replicate.
What does this mean?
Oil prices have been on the up and up this year, meaning BP was able to sell what it extracted at a higher price last quarter – and in turn take home a higher-than-expected profit. It went one step further than US oil companies too, which have mostly been raising their dividends and reintroducing share buybacks: BP promised to buy back $1 billion worth of shares every quarter and up its annual dividend by 4% a year until 2025 (as long as oil’s price averages at least $60 a barrel). And never ones to thumb their noses at both certainty and cash returns, investors sent BP’s stock up 5%.
Why should I care?
For markets: Just to manage expectations…
Oil’s price is up around 40% this year, but investors looking for even more of a climb might be disappointed if JPMorgan Chase is to be believed. The firm’s private bank investment strategist thinks the price of the dusky nectar is fair in its current range of $70-75, and doesn’t reckon it’ll move much in the next year.
Zooming in: Mind the gap.
JPMorgan’s hot take suggests Europe’s oil stocks – up just 5% this year – are going to need to find some other way to close the gap on America’s majors, up around 35% (tweet this). One possibility is if Europe’s oil firms can put to bed investors’ environmental concerns, though not the ones you’d think. See, these companies have talked a big game about becoming greener, but they’ll have to spend bigger if they actually want to achieve those goals. And that, investors worry, could come at the expense of dividends, buybacks, and clearing debt. BP seemed to soothe its investors’ jitters on Tuesday, but European rivals Total and Shell have a pretty high bar to clear.