BP Posts Strongest Quarterly Profit Since 2014

LONDON—BP PLC on Tuesday reported its strongest quarterly profit since mid-2014, boosted by higher oil prices and rising production as the oil major’s efforts to return to growth pay off.

London-based BP said its replacement cost profit—a number analogous to the net income that U.S. oil companies report—was $2.4 billion in the first quarter, compared with $1.4 billion in the same period a year earlier.

However, its cash flow came in lower than analysts had expected.

The profit numbers bear out BP’s ambitious plan to regain its position among the world’s elite big energy companies and indicate it is moving past its fatal blowout and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

The company’s production rose 6% in the first quarter compared with a year ago as the company continues to deliver on a strategy to return to its former size by the early 2020s.

But debt levels crept higher as liabilities relating to the disaster continue to weigh on BP’s performance. The company paid out $1.6 billion in the first quarter, including the final charge in a 2012 settlement with the Department of Justice to resolve all criminal claims. Payments are expected to total just over $3 billion in 2018.

BP caps a mixed earnings season for the world’s biggest oil companies. Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell PLC posted their best first-quarter profits in years, but investors remained skeptical of companies that failed to meet expectations during three months when oil prices reached their highest level since 2014.

Write to Sarah Kent at sarah.kent@wsj.com

Source Article