Total SA's Earnings Outshine the Rest of Big Oil Yet Again This Quarter

Image Source: Total SA earnings release, author's chart.

What happened with Total this past quarter

  • The board of directors approved a dividend of 2.44 euros per share, which is the same as last year's payment aside from any foreign exchange fluctuations.
  • In addition to its current dividend policy, Total is offering shareholders the option to take dividends in the form of newly issued shares instead of cash. Investors who choose to take a scrip dividend instead of cash will get a 10% market premium.
  • Total was able to offset the declines in oil prices with a 9% increase in total production throughout the year. The largest gains in production came from new oil production in the Middle East, where it started a concession contract with the Abu Dhabi Onshore Oil Company (ADCO).
  • The company completed $2.2 billion in divestments, as it's part of the Fort Hills oil sands project, as well as farming out part of its Laggain-Tomore project in the North Sea.
  • Started shipping its first LNG cargoes from its Gladstone LNG project in Australia.
  • Ended 2015 with a reserve replacement ratio of 107%.
  • Net debt-to-equity ratio fell from 31% in 2014 to 28% in 2015.

What management had to say

Compared to what other oil executives have had to say this past quarter, Total CEO Patrick Pouyanne's statements seemed almost chipper. Then again, when your business has been able to hold up as well as Total's has during this downturn, he has a right to be positive:

Hydrocarbon prices fell sharply in 2015 with Brent decreasing by around 50%. In this context, Total Generated adjusted net results of $10.5 billion, ac decrease of 18% compared to 2014, the best performance among the majors. This resilience in a degraded environment demonstrates the effectiveness of the Group's integrated model and the full mobilization of its teams. Discipline on spending was reinforced in 2015. The cost-reduction program allowed us to save $1.5 billion, exceeding the objective of $1.2 billion. Organic Capex was $23 billion, a decrease close to 15% compared to 2014.These results confirm the success of the Group's strategy to further decrease its breakeven and capitalize on its market position.

Looking forward

For 2016, the company is expecting a lot more of the same. Total capital expenditures are expected to decline for the second year in a row, to about $19 billion from $23 billion in 2015. Management is also predicting a reduction of $2.4 billion in operational costs compared to initial 2015 cost estimates.

At the same time, Total expects to increase production by another 4% in 2016 as several more projects either come online, or ramp up to full capacity. Based on its current projections, Total expects to be cash-flow breakeven in 2016 if the average cost of a barrel of oil is in the $45-per-barrel range, one of the lower numbers among the integrated majors.

10-second takeaway

Total is proving to be much more resilient than what many on Wall Street probably were expecting. The addition of several highly profitable production sources, such as the ADCO concession contract, are helping keep upstream earnings from going up in flames, while refining and marketing are producing improving results. Total's shares may be going down with the rest of the oil industry, but its business fundamentals suggest it is possibly the best positioned for a recovery once that recovery comes.

The next billion-dollar iSecret

The world's biggest tech company forgot to show you something at its recent event, but a few Wall Street analysts and the Fool didn't miss a beat: There's a small company that's powering their brand-new gadgets and the coming revolution in technology. And we think its stock price has nearly unlimited room to run for early in-the-know investors! To be one of them, just click here .

The article Total SA's Earnings Outshine the Rest of Big Oil Yet Again This Quarter originally appeared on

Tyler Crowe has no position in any stocks mentioned. You can follow him at Fool.comor on Twitter @TylerCroweFool.The Motley Fool recommends Total (ADR). Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days . We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy .

Copyright © 1995 - 2016 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy .

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

Other Topics


Latest Markets Videos

The Motley Fool

Founded in 1993 in Alexandria, VA., by brothers David and Tom Gardner, The Motley Fool is a multimedia financial-services company dedicated to building the world's greatest investment community. Reaching millions of people each month through its website, books, newspaper column, radio show, television appearances, and subscription newsletter services, The Motley Fool champions shareholder values and advocates tirelessly for the individual investor. The company's name was taken from Shakespeare, whose wise fools both instructed and amused, and could speak the truth to the king -- without getting their heads lopped off.

Learn More