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Total’s profits hit by volatile oil prices in spite of record output

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French energy major, Total, said on Friday that its net profit for the first three months of the year fell by four per cent to $2.8 billion compared with a year ago.

The company said in Paris that the drop was due to volatile oil prices and debt costs,  in spite of record oil and gas output.

It said it would take advantage of the low cost environment to launch further projects in Brazil, Uganda and Russia.

Total shares dropped 0.4 in early session trading, with the stock up nearly 10 per cent so far in 2019.

The firm kept its investments, and cost savings target for the year unchanged, and said production growth should exceed nine per cent during the year.

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It said the unchanged target was due to the ramp-up of projects started in 2018, and the start-ups of others in Angola, Brazil, Britain and Norway.

“A decent start to the year,” wrote analysts at RBC Capital Markets on Total’s results, as they kept an “outperform” rating on the stock.

Total’s adjusted net profit, which was down for the first time since the fourth quarter of 2016, hit by lower oil prices, with the Brent price averaging $63 per barrel in the January to March period, down  six per cent year-on-year.

The adjusted net profit was nevertheless slightly above average analysts’ forecast of $2.7 billion, while Total also raised its dividend.

Natural gas prices slumped in Europe by 11 per cent and in Asia by 30 per cent, Total said. (NAN)

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