BP PLC on Tuesday posted better-than-expected earnings for the first quarter of the year, reflecting stronger oil and gas prices, and said it is launching a $500 million share buyback in the second quarter.
The British oil major made a net profit of $4.67 billion for the three months ended March 31, up from $1.36 billion in the fourth quarter of 2020 and swinging from a $4.36 billion net loss in the first quarter of 2020.
Underlying replacement cost profit came in at $2.63 billion, well above the $1.64 billion market consensus–compiled by the company from 23 brokers. Underlying RC profit is a similar metric to the net profit figure that U.S. oil companies use, but strips out one-off items.
Brent oil averaged $61 a barrel in the first quarter, up from $44 in October-December and $50 a year earlier.
In addition, BP on Tuesday confirmed it has achieved its target of reducing net debt below $35 billion. As a result, the company is starting a $500 million share buyback in the second quarter to offset expected full-year dilution from the vesting of awards under employee share programs, it said.
The company also declared a dividend of 5.25 cents a share for the first quarter, in line with the fourth quarter of 2020 and down from 10.50 cents a year earlier.
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