Oil giant BP earned just under $5bn over $33,000 a minute in the third quarter. That was down 50% from last year's third quarter when oil prices peaked, but higher than expected.
Production increased by 7%, helped by the absence of hurricane disruption in the Gulf of Mexico. BP also impressed investors by upping its cost-saving target for the year as a whole to $4bn $1bn more than it anticipated three months ago and trimming its debt by $800m. The shares hit a 16-month high.
What the commentators said
CEO Tony Hayward was determined to concentrate on the "nuts and bolts" of the business when he arrived two years ago, said David Wighton in The Times. As the impressive progress on cost cuts shows, this has "paid off". He's simplified and decreased the number of contracts signed with suppliers from rigs to IT firms; there are now five of the latter, down from 85.
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There should be plenty of scope for even more savings, said Ruth Sunderland in The Guardian. Hayward "is finding his economy drive a bit like peeling an onion: once one layer of costs is removed, others become visible". BP "can now balance its books" with oil at $60 a barrel, well below the current $78, said Fiona Maharg-Bravo on Breakingviews. That should "put to rest any lingering concern over the sustainability of the dividend this year and probably next".
BP: 583p; 12m change 36%.
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