BP (BP) announced Tuesday that it likely hit its debt-reduction target in the first quarter, helped by assets sales and rebounding oil prices. BP stock rose.
The European oil major previously had forecast reaching its target of $35 billion in net debt between Q4 of 2021 and Q1 of 2022.
“This is a result of earlier than anticipated delivery of disposal proceeds combined with very strong business performance during the first quarter,” CEO Bernard Looney said in a release.
BP received $4.7 billion in proceeds from asset sales during Q1. Sales included a stake in a major gas field in Oman and an interest in Palantir (PLTR).
With its debt target likely in hand, BP could resume share buybacks soon. The company reiterated its pledge to deliver 60% of excess cash to shareholders.
BP will report full Q1 results and provide further updates on the buyback program on April 27. The company also cut its dividend last year but didn’t mention it Tuesday.
BP Stock, Oil Stocks
Other top oil stocks were muted Tuesday. Exxon stock fell 1%, while Chevron and Shell were flat.
Meanwhile, U.S. and Brent crude oil prices rebounded more than 2% after selling off Monday as resurgent covid cases in top markets raised demand fears.
ConocoPhillips (COP), the largest independent oil producer, resumed its share repurchases last month, while also keeping capital spending plans in check.
The resumption of BP stock buybacks could put more pressure on U.S. rivals to follow along soon. But Chevron told shareholders last month that repurchases wouldn’t resume until management is confident they can be sustained for multiple years.
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