(BP - Get Report)
, the U.K. oil giant, said fourth-quarter earnings rose 30%, it will resume paying quarterly dividends, and it plans to divest itself of half its U.S. refining capacity.
BP posted fourth-quarter earnings of $5.57 billion vs. $4.295 billion a year earlier. Fourth-quarter earnings include a charge of $1 billion related to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
Replacement cost profit was $4.61 billion vs. $3.45 billion. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expected replacement cost profit in the fourth quarter of $5.09 billion.
BP reported a 2010 loss of $3.72 billion. The charge related to the oil spill for 2010 was $40.9 billion.
BP's fourth-quarter dividend of 7 cents a share will be its first since it suspended dividends in June 2010 following the well disaster. The dividend is half of what it paid in the fourth quarter of 2009.
"We believe now is the right time to resume payment of a dividend to our shareholders," said BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg, in a statement Tuesday. "We have chosen a prudent level that reflects the company's strong underlying financial and operating performance but also recognizes the need to fully meet our obligations in the Gulf of Mexico and to maintain financial flexibility."
The oil company said it intends to "grow the dividend level over time, in line with the improving circumstances of the company."
BP said it plans to seek buyers for its Texas City, Texas, refinery and the Carson refinery near Los Angeles, along with its associated marketing business in southern California, Arizona, and Nevada.
-- Written by Joseph Woelfel
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