Wednesday, February 8, 2012

BP (BP) Earnings Appear Under Pressure for 2012

BP (NYSE:BP) had a couple of analysts express concern over the performance of the company in 2012, pressuring the stock in early trading.

Jefferies (NYSE:JEF) said the oil giant is unlikely to boost production before 2014, which will probably mean earnings estimates will be lower than projected. They also cited higher tax rates and charges as another factor in the earnings performance of BP.

Consequently, Jefferies cut its earnings estimate on BP from $1.24 a share to $1.20 a share. For 2013, it raised its EPS estimate from 94 cents a share to 95 cents a share. Even so, the brokerage reiterated its "Buy" rating on the energy company.

Societe Generale downgraded BP on Wednesday from a "Buy" rating to a "Hold" rating, citing uncertainties surrounding legal liabilities as the Macondo trial date of February 27 approaches.

"The key risk is the start of the Macondo trial on February 27. The impossibility of 'calling' the legal outcome, leads us tactically to a hold rating, following a year of outperformance," the analysts said.

Societe Generale also noted that BP will be the last entity to offer its evidence, meaning the news cycle will probably be negative in the early part of the trial, suggesting pressure on the stock.

Possibly in anticipation of this, BP boosted its dividend to a quarterly rate of 8 cents a share after a solid quarter, where the earnings of the company rose to $7.69 billion on revenue of $96.3 billion.

BP was trading at $46.59, falling $0.01, or 0.02 percent, as of 11:10 AM EST.

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