French energy major Total, SA (NYSE: TOT – $55.12) said fourth-quarter net profit soared 86% from a year ago as production increased benefits from higher oil prices. The company said that adjusted net operating profit rose 79% to $1.8 billion at its exploration and production business offset by its refining and chemicals businesses with adjusted net operating profit falling 22% to $886 million. Earnings per share topped estimates by a penny to $1.10 vs. $0.96 a year ago. Total said with organic investments reaching $14.4 billion and cost savings of $3.7 billion, it was able to achieve strong financial results for the period and ahead of its targets. Production costs also fell to $5.40 for a barrel of oil equivalent, compared with $9.90 three years ago. Cash flow from operations was up 23% in the quarter to $8.62 billion.
For the full year, a Street earning’s estimate of $4.57 is likely compared to 2017’s $4.01 and possibly $5.14 next year. The company also proposed an annual dividend of $3.06 a share for 2017. Investors with a long-term holding period may find these good-quality ADRs inviting. Total’s balance sheet is fundamentally sound, cash flow generation is improving and the current dividend yield of 5.2%, is well above market averages.