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Betting on BP

Note: This piece has been updated from 11:07 am Tuesday to include new text throughout.

NEW YORK (TheStreet) - BP (BP - Get Report) may be a good bet despite all the bad news surrounding the company.

Earlier today, the major British oil company reported a 20% drop in first-quarter earnings. The company still hasn't recovered from the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster, and it's embroiled in Ukraine's crisis, as yesterday Obama administration put the name of the president of Rosneft, BP's partner in Russia, on the sanctions list. BP owns a 20% stake in state-controlled Rosneft.

But BP's American depositary receipts trade at just 6.7 times trailing earnings, and the company is increasing its dividend and promising more stock buybacks. BP raised its first-quarter dividend to 9.7 cents a share from 9 cents last year and said it would use asset sales to pay for more stock buybacks. 

The company is approaching the end of its $8 billion buyback program. So far, it has spent nearly $7.6 billion on repurchasing shares. With a promise of more buybacks, the company will likely announce a new program in the near future.

BP's adjusted profit dropped by 23.5% from last year to $3.23 billion, better than analysts' consensus estimate of $3.1 billion, according to data compiled by Thomson Reuters. Earnings in the upstream division, which includes exploration and production, tumbled 22.8% on the back of asset sales and non-cash charges. Profit at its downstream, or refining and marketing, division fell 38%.

Although the company's actual net profit has fallen sharply from $16.86 billion in the first quarter of 2013 to just $3.53 billion in the previous quarter, last year's results also included a $12.5 billion gain from the sale of an asset.

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