Total beats quarterly forecasts, lifts dividends despite low oil price


ABERDEEN, Scotland (Reuters) – Total (TOTF.PA) beat forecasts on Thursday by keeping net adjusted profit for the fourth quarter steady at $3.2 billion and fulfilled its pledge to boost dividends despite low oil prices, lifting the French energy major’s shares by 3%.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of French oil giant Total is pictured at a petrol station in Laplume, France January 16, 2020. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau/File Photo

Analysts had forecasts net profit of about $2.7 billion.

“This performance is better than that of our rivals in terms of resisting to low oil prices,” Total Chief Executive Officer Patrick Pouyanne told journalists.

He said the group reported solid fourth quarter 2019 results with debt-adjusted cash flow (DACF) at $7.4 billion, an increase of more than 20% compared with the fourth quarter of 2018.

(GRAPHIC: Total Results – here)

Total’s oil and gas production grew by 9% in 2019 compared with the previous year thanks to start ups and ramp ups of projects, while its liquefied natural gas (LNG) business doubled, boosting its cash flow.

Pouyanne said the exceptional production growth was unlikely to continue in the years to come and output growth for 2020 was seen at 2% to 4%, a more typical level in the industry.

Pouyanne said the group rewarded shareholders with a 6% increase in the final dividend for 2019 to 0.68 euros per share. It bought back $1.75 billion of its shares in 2019 and plans to buy back $2 billion of its shares in 2020 with oil at $60 per barrel.

“Taking into account the strong visibility on cash flow, the group will continue to increase the dividend with the guidance of 5% to 6% per year,” the company said in the statement.

Reporting by Bate Felix; Editing by Alexander Smith

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