After the bloodbath caused by Saudi Arabia’s decision to ramp up output, European oil companies at first blush look enticingly cheap.
The dividend yield in BP, for example, is a mouth-watering 9.35%, according to FactSet Research. For perspective, the yield on a British 10-year gilt is 0.27%.
But with oil prices so low, how could BP possibly afford to pay such a dividend?
Probably the most jarring numbers are the dividend cover at that level.
Equinor this year could cover just 1% of its dividend versus its previous estimate of 93%, according to the Morgan Stanley calculation of life at $35 a barrel.
The best positioned is OMV, which can still cover 107% of its dividend at $35, down from an estimated 198%.
BP’s dividend cover falls to 54% from 107%; Shell’s drops to 72% from 115%; Total’s goes to 62% from 125%; Eni’s drops to 57% from 87%; Repsol’s falls to 79% from 123%; and Galp’s drops to 52% from 115%.
Stock buybacks for the European major oil companies would drop by two-thirds on the Morgan Stanley numbers.