France’s Total keeps dividend stable in ‘exceptional circumstances’

By Bate Felix

PARIS, May 5 (Reuters) – French energy major Total kept its dividend stable despite reporting a sharp fall in first-quarter net adjusted profit, hit by a deep plunge in oil prices and the economic slowdown caused by the new coronavirus outbreak.

Total’s net adjusted profit fell 35% to $1.78 billion, agen baccarat online but beat analysts’ forecasts.

The market had expected Total’s net income for the quarter to be $1.3 billion, the mean estimate of 4 analysts, based on Refinitiv data, found.

“The group is facing exceptional circumstances: the COVID-19 health crisis, which is affecting the world economy and creating major uncertainties, and the oil market crisis, with the sharp drop in oil prices since March,” Chairman and CEO Patrick Pouyanne said.

Total kept its first quarter interim dividend stable at 0.66 euros ($0.7199) per share, saying it will be paid in cash exclusively.

It had planned to accelerate its dividend growth in the coming years, with a guidance of increasing the dividend by 5% to 6% per year.

Total said that as oil prices fell by more than 30% on average in the quarter, its cash flow slumped by 31% year-on-year to $4.5 billion.

Although its oil and gas output rose by 5% to more than 3 million barrels of oil equivalent per day (mboepd) in the quarter, production for the year is expected to fall by at least 5% to between 2.95 mboepd and 3 mboepd, it said.

As the effects of lockdowns to curb the spread of the virus roiled markets, Total announced an action plan on March 23 to cut its planned investments for 2020 by more than 20% to $15 billion.

The company said on Tuesday it will reduce its investments further to $14 billion in 2020, while increasing cost savings to more than $1 billion. ($1 = 0.9168 euros) (Reporting by Bate Felix; editing by Jason Neely and Barbara Lewis)

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