France’s Total lifts shareholder dividends as profit jumps

Fourth-quarter net profit at the French oil company rose 19 percent to $2.9 billion, compared with analysts’ average forecast of $2.8 billion. (Reuters)
Updated 08 February 2018
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France’s Total lifts shareholder dividends as profit jumps

PARIS: Higher production drove a 28 percent rise in net profit at Total last year, allowing the French oil and gas group to hike dividends and announce plans to buy back shares.
Adjusted net profit came in at $10.6 billion (SR39.75 billion), helped by a five percent rise in production.
The company said on Thursday it would increase dividends by 10 percent over the next three years, with the 2018 interim dividend rising 3.2 percent. It also said it planned to buy back up to $5 billion of stock over 2018-2020.
Total shares were up 1.7 percent in early trading, outperforming a 0.6 percent decline in the STOXX Europe 600 Oil & Gas index.
Fourth-quarter net profit rose 19 percent to $2.9 billion, compared with analysts’ average forecast of $2.8 billion. Oil output, however, came in slightly below analysts’ mean estimate.
“The numbers were good. In Total’s case, they’ve got enough cash to increase capex and do a share buyback, so it all looks reasonably positive,” said Clairinvest fund manager Ion-Marc Valahu, who owns Total shares.
Chief Executive Patrick Pouyanne said Total planned some $2 billion of acquisitions in 2018, and the company would return to normal staff hiring patterns after a three-year freeze.
Rival BP said earlier this week its 2017 profit more than doubled to $6.2 billion on the back of higher oil prices and output, allowing the British firm to resume share buybacks, as it too recovers from a three-year oil downturn.
However, US groups Exxon Mobil and Chevron posted rare quarterly earnings misses this month, hit by weakness in international refining operations.
Total’s market value of around €115 billion puts it roughly on a par with BP, but below Exxon, Chevron and Royal Dutch Shell, according to Thomson Reuters data.


Kuwait budget to boost spending to spur growth

Updated 11 min 48 sec ago
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Kuwait budget to boost spending to spur growth

KUWAIT: Major oil producer Kuwait on Monday announced a state budget for the year ending on March 31, 2020, projecting a 4.7 percent rise in spending to 22.5 billion dinars ($74.15 billion) to drive economic growth.
The Kuwaiti Finance Minister Nayef al-Hajraf said he expected the average oil price to range between $55 to $65 per barrel, higher than the projected $50 a barrel in its last budget.
The budget deficit in the new fiscal year was projected at 7.7 billion dinars after accounting for a deposit of 10 percent of total revenue into the sovereign wealth fund. The deficit was 2.1 percent lower than the 2018/2019 budget, according to the budget statement. ($1 = 0.3034 Kuwaiti dinars)