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BP ( BP)

Company Profile : London-based BP provides fuel for transportation, energy for heat and light, retail services, and petrochemicals products, through its two business segments: exploration and production, and refining and marketing.

BP reinstated its dividend at 7 cents per share for the fourth quarter of 2010. It will be first shareholder payout since it suspended its dividends in June 2010 following the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in April. The dividend is half of what it paid in the fourth quarter of 2009.

It was the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history, resulting from an oil rig explosion that killed 11 workers and led to billions of barrels of crude spilling into the Gulf waters.

"We believe now is the right time to resume payment of a dividend to our shareholders," said BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg. "We have chosen a prudent level that reflects the company's strong underlying financial and operating performance but also recognizes the need to fully meet our obligations in the Gulf of Mexico and to maintain financial flexibility." The oil company said it intends to "grow the dividend level over time, in line with the improving circumstances of the company."

BP posted fourth-quarter earnings of $5.57 billion compared with year-earlier profits of $4.3 billion. Results included a charge of $1 billion related to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. BP reported a 2010 loss of $3.72 billion. The charge related to the oil spill for 2010 was $40.9 billion.

In February, the Mobile County school system in Alabama sued BP, alleging the Gulf oil spill led to a loss of revenue from lower home values resulting from reduced property taxes.

"I believe we will get some money because we deserve it," said Superintendent Roy Nichols. "We've been harmed and we need to be made whole."

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