International energy giant Total, SA (NYSE: TOT – $71.24) reported earnings for the first quarter of $1.46 per share, beating Street estimates by two cents. Earnings fell 10% from last year’s $1.63 per share, mostly due to lower production on the back of several major-project hurdles, as well as lower crude oil prices and higher exploration charges. Sales for the period were down 5% to $60.68 billion, but were ahead of most estimates. Cash flow from operations advanced 9% during the period and the company announced a regular dividend equal to $0.84 per share, yielding investors 4.6% at current levels. Some notable events during the first quarter for the French oil and gas company included: Initial gas and condensate production in Bolivia; the launch of an ultra-deep offshore project in Angola; an oil discovery off Africa’s Ivory Coast; the acquisition of exploration permits for UK shale gas and Russian oil shale; completion of the acquisition of an interest in major gas discoveries in Papua-New Guinea; and the signing of an LNG cooperation agreement to strengthen the existing partnership between Total and China’s CNOOC. Although the shares are up over 20% since entering the income portfolio in January, this top quality issue remains suitable for conservative income-oriented investors seeking attractive total returns, especially if Europe’s economy continues to improve.