Income · Stocks to Consider and Updates

Total Profit Falls, Beats Estimates

TOTTotal, SA (NYSE: TOT – $48.27) said its net profit plunged 69% during the third quarter compared with a year earlier, dragged down by stubbornly low oil prices and a $650 million write-down on the company’s Canadian Fort Hills oil-sands assets. The company softened the blow of a sixteen month price slump by raising output to an average of 2.34 million barrels of oil equivalent a day, up from 2.12 million in the same period a year ago. Total’s adjusted net profit that strips out one-time charges like write-downs, fell just 22% to $2.76 billion or $1.17 per share and beat median analysts’ forecasts of $0.91 per share. The company has ramped up production in recent years, the result of several big projects coming online including the new Abu Dubai venture.  The French energy giant raised its output target increase for this year to more than 9%, up from 8% previously, and said it would carry out half of its $10 billion three-year asset sale plan this year alone. The company warned, however, that investment cuts will take their toll on production in the long run. At the same time, it has raced to cut costs, delay investments and sell weaker performing assets. Total’s downstream operations have cushioned results of the exploration and production side of the oil business this year, as lower prices spur retail demand and refineries crank up production. Taking a long-term perspective, Total continues to economize in this difficult operating environment to gain efficiencies. These top-quality ADRs, will likely lag the market in the short run, but offer attractive comeback possibilities to 2018-2020. The strong dividend income, yielding 5.7% before foreign taxes, may ease the wait.


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