Total SA (TOT) - Get Total SA Sponsored ADR Class B Report shares slipped in early trading in Paris after the oil major posted a surge in first quarter profits and held its dividend steady amid a rise in global oil prices.
Total said adjusted net income for the three months ending in March rose 56% from the same period last year to $2.6 billion, outpacing the 54% advance in Brent crude prices over the same period. The Paris-based group said it would pay an interim dividend of €0.62 per share, setting a payout ratio of 65%, the company said.
"The strength of the balance sheet and relentless pursuit of cost reductions allows the group to launch new projects and acquire resources while fully benefiting from the ongoing deflation in the oil sector," said CEO Patrick Pouyanne.
Total's exploration and production unit generated the bulk of operating profits, with the bottom line nearly tripling to $1.382 billion from the same period last year. Refining and chemicals profits, however, slipped 9% to just over $1 billion. At the group level, cash flow from operations rose surged to $4.7 billion from $1.8 billion in the first quarter of 2016.
The group also signed off on an investment project in Argentina, its first in three years, making good on its earlier intention to boost spending amid a surge in cash from rising global oil prices. That said, total investments fell 25% from the first quarter of 2016 to $3.7 billion while divestments nearly tripled to $2.9 billion, the company said.
Total shares fell 0.62% in the opening hour of trading in Paris to change hands at €47.53 each, a decline that was largely in-line with the broader CAC-40 benchmark and the Stoxx Europe 600 Oil & Gas index.