Total records $3.2bn profit

Oil major, Total, recorded net adjusted fourth-quarter profit steady at $3.2 billion despite low oil prices and fulfilled a pledge to boost dividends.

“This performance is better than that of our rivals in terms of resisting low oil prices,” CEO Patrick Pouyanne told journalists, adding Total was rewarding investors with a 6 per cent increase in the final dividend for 2019 to 0.68 euros per share.

“Taking into account the strong visibility on cash flow, the group will continue to increase the dividend with the guidance of five per cent to six per cent per year,” the company said in its statement.

Total bought back $1.75 billion in shares in 2019 and plans to buy back $2 billion more in 2020.

Pouyanne said the group had reported solid results including debt-adjusted cash flow of $7.4 billion, up more than 20 per cent from a year earlier.

Total’s oil and gas production grew by nine per cent in 2019 thanks to project start-ups and ramp-ups, while its LNG business doubled, boosting cash flow.

“One of the reasons our results resisted the low oil environment was because of the strong LNG output which grew 50 per cent,” Pouyanne said.

He said exceptional production growth was unlikely to continue in the years to come and output growth for 2020 was seen at two per cent to four per cent, a more typical level in the industry.

The chief executive said Total was expanding in the low carbon energy business and was on track to meet its goal of producing 25 gigawatts (GW) of renewable electricity by 2025, helped by solar projects in Qatar and India.

Total, which kept its capital expenditure target steady for 2020 at $18 billion, said it was on track to achieve its target of $5 billion in divestments during 2019 and 2020.

Total said it had sold its 27.5 per cent interest in Fosmax LNG, which operates France’s Fos Cavaou LNG terminal, to Engie unit Elengy for about $260 million.

Total is on track to achieve its divestment target with transactions worth $3 billion so far, Jefferies analysts said.

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