(BP, Anadarko stock surge story updated for Thursday market close, JPMorgan analyst research)
NEW YORK (
) - After trading down to a 14-year low on Wednesday on fears of a BP bankruptcy, BP shares showed major signs of life on Thursday, spiking by more than 12%, and recovering more than $10 billion in market cap shed on Wednesday. Trading in BP shares surpassed the 200 million share mark for the second consecutive day on Thursday.
BP was so frustrated by the latest hit to its share value -- BP market cap was below book value by Wednesday and its market cap down more than 50% since the oil spill began -- that the oil giant issued a statement early on Thursday saying, "BP notes the fall in its share price in U.S. trading last night. The company is not aware of any reason which justifies this share price movement."
All of BP's attempts to stop the oil spill have failed, but the Thursday statement seemed to work. BP found some friends on the Street, too.
It might have also helped that a JPMorgan Chase analyst was out with a research report on Thursday saying that the Wednesday pummeling in BP shares had finally signaled a unique buying opportunity -- the JP Morgan analyst already had a buy rating on BP.
"Latest technical rout reveals unprecedented value" in BP shares, the JPMorgan analyst wrote on Thursday. Lucas argues that the $84 billion loss in BP's market cap after Wednesday's beating was more than twice the level of any justifiable selloff. The JPMorgan analyst added his rough estimate to the unquantifiable costs that BP will rack up by the time all is said and done in the oil spill, putting the price tag at $29 billion, across cleanup costs, federal fines and litigation.
On Thursday, as heavier concentrations of oil reached Florida bays, the state of Florida asked BP to create a fund of $2.2 billion to cover potential damages.
Market fears been split between a BP bankruptcy panic and the upcoming July 27 BP dividend, specifically, whether the company will bow to political pressure to suspend the hefty dividend payment. Institutional investors, in particular big U.K.-based pension funds, are reliant on BP dividends as part of an income stream for shareholders. There have been fears that these investors will be forced to sell large stakes in BP if the dividend is suspended.
Oppenheimer & Co. analyst Fadel Gheit, not one known to mince words, called the federal government's attacks on the BP dividend an ill-advised, and unenforceable, demand. Like the JPMorgan analyst, Gheit has a buy on BP shares.
As it had said in last Friday's conference call with anxious investors, BP noted after the big Wednesday "oil spill flash crash" that it "faces this situation as a strong company," with cash inflows and outflows balanced at an oil price of just $60 a barrel before the incident, which generates additional cash flow with oil prices now well above the $60 mark. BP also pointed to its global asset base as another sign of its strengths, a point also made on last week's conference call with investors.
"All of the above gives us significant capacity and flexibility in dealing with the cost of responding to the incident, the environmental remediation and the payment of legitimate claims," BP said on Thursday morning.
, which owns a 25% stake in the leaking BP well, and which fell by even more than BP on Wednesday when it was down by more than 18%, was up more than 12% on Thursday.
BP's Deepwater Horizon rig operator,
, which fell yesterday by another 8%, and back up by 4% on Thursday.
The rally in the BP oil spill stocks was part of a larger market surge on Thursday, with all the major U.S. equity indexes off to the races for a change, and energy stock indexes up by 4%.
Thursday was a great day in trading for BP oil stocks, but it was another day of immense political pressure for the oil company. BP conceded to some government demands to speed up payment of damages claims in the Gulf coast region.
From the U.K., British business interests showed their frustration at the unknown fate of one of the country's most elite companies, pleading with the British government to tell President Obama to take down the political rhetoric a notch in the ongoing oil spill saga.
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-- Reported by Eric Rosenbaum in New York.
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