Italy's biggest oil producer Eni (E) - Get Report on Friday posted a mixed bag of first-quarter results, booking an adjusted net loss of ¿479 million ($546 million) that missed expectations, and adjusted operating profit of ¿472 million, significantly ahead of analysts' forecasts for earnings of ¿220 million.
Rome-based Eni said the loss, which followed a ¿454 million profit this time last year, reflected "sharply lower results of the E&P (exploration and production) segment, down by ¿1 billion, driven by the impact of continuing weakness in commodity prices."
Eni shares were largely unmoved, trading Friday at ¿14.42, up a slim 0.1% on their Thursday close.
"E&P was ahead of consensus driven by lower costs and solid production," Goldman Sachs analyst Henry Tarr wrote Friday. "Gas & Power delivered a strong result in the quarter driven by a solid retail performance."
The Italian oil producer's results follow those of BP (BP) - Get Report , Total (TOT) - Get Report and Statoil, STO each of which surprised the market by strongly beating analysts' estimates after aggressively cutting costs and delivering better-than-expected numbers from refining, petrochemical and trading operations. Exxon Mobil (XOM) - Get Report and Chevron (CVX) - Get Report will release their first-quarter results shortly.
Eni said it expected to capital expenditure to fall 20% in 2016, maintaining earlier guidance, and said it could fund its spending from cash flows so long as oil prices reached $50 a barrel.
Brent crude traded at an averaged $34 per barrel in the first quarter but has since risen about 75% from its 2016 low to hit a year-to-date high of $48.40 on Friday.
Analysts are split about the prospect of further rises. "The market is coming into better balance and we maintain the current view that the market will flip into undersupply (in the second half of the year)," Jefferies analysts noted on Friday.
Deutsche Bank was less optimistic in its assessment, warning that the rally could pause as a "sustainable rise in OPEC production may be just around the corner."