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Will Lifting of Ban Help BP (BP) Today?

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The Environmental Protection Agency has lifted its ban on BP  (BP) allowing the British oil and gas company to bid on federal contracts in the United States.

BP had been banned from doing so after pleading guilty to criminal charges following the Deepwater Horizon disaster in April 2010.

As part of an agreement that will last five years, the EPA will require BP to retain an auditor who will conduct an annual review to make sure the energy company is complying with the parameters set by the EPA. The EPA has must approve the auditor. There are specific provisions in the agreement regarding ethics compliance, corporate governance and process safety.

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Craig Hooks, assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Administration and Resources Management, said, "Many months of discussions and assessments have led up to this point, and I'm confident we've secured strong provisions to protect the integrity of federal procurement programs." 

BP pleaded guilty in 2012 to manslaughter charges connected to the explosion and fireball that eventually sunk the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in April 2010. That explosion killed 11 crew members and set off a chain of events that led to a leak in the oil well that could not be plugged for four months. BP paid a record $4.5 billion in penalties to the U.S. as a part of its plea deal.

The lifting of the ban, which takes effect immediately, will allow BP to resume operations at its Houston corporate facility.

BP shares rose 0.2% on Friday to $47.71.

TheStreet Ratings team rates BP PLC as a Buy with a ratings score of A-. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about its recommendation:

"We rate BP PLC (BP) a BUY. This is based on the convergence of positive investment measures, which should help this stock outperform the majority of stocks that we rate. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its reasonable valuation levels, increase in stock price during the past year, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures and notable return on equity. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had sub par growth in net income."

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • Compared to where it was a year ago today, the stock is now trading at a higher level, regardless of the company's weak earnings results. Turning our attention to the future direction of the stock, it goes without saying that even the best stocks can fall in an overall down market. However, in any other environment, this stock still has good upside potential despite the fact that it has already risen in the past year.
  • The current debt-to-equity ratio, 0.37, is low and is below the industry average, implying that there has been successful management of debt levels. Although the company had a strong debt-to-equity ratio, its quick ratio of 0.87 is somewhat weak and could be cause for future problems.
  • Current return on equity exceeded its ROE from the same quarter one year prior. This is a clear sign of strength within the company. Compared to other companies in the Oil, Gas & Consumable Fuels industry and the overall market on the basis of return on equity, BP PLC has underperformed in comparison with the industry average, but has exceeded that of the S&P 500.
  • Regardless of the drop in revenue, the company managed to outperform against the industry average of 7.7%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly dropped by 0.2%. Weakness in the company's revenue seems to have hurt the bottom line, decreasing earnings per share.
  • You can view the full analysis from the report here: BP Ratings Report
STOCKS TO BUY: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12 months. Learn more.

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