Equinor profit beats estimates as oil output tops prediction

Norway’s Equinor ASA beat profit estimates after pumping more oil and gas than predicted.

First-quarter results at the state-controlled producer capped a mixed series of earnings for the major oil companies as the industry turns a page on the 2014-2017 downturn. Supermajors BP Plc and Royal Dutch Shell Plc met or exceeded estimates thanks to trading gains and strong natural-gas results, while Exxon Mobil Corp. had its worst refining performance in almost two decades.

“We maintain high production, continue with strong cost focus and strict capital discipline, and we are on track to deliver on our guidance from our Capital Markets Update in February,” Equinor Chief Executive Officer Eldar Saetre said Friday in a statement.

Equinor’s adjusted net income rose to $1.54 billion in the quarter from $1.47 billion a year earlier, beating the average analyst estimate of $1.31 billion in a Bloomberg survey.

The company produced 2.178 million barrels of oil equivalent a day, little changed from a year earlier but exceeding the average estimate of 2.163 million in a company survey. It maintained plans to keep output flat this year, then increase it 3 percent a year on average until 2025.

Equinor also managed the fallout from a steep drop in European gas prices in the quarter, realizing the same price as a year earlier just as it boosted production of the fuel in Norway.

Read more about how gas helped Shell beat estimates this week

Equinor generated $6.5 billion in cash flow from operations, compared with a JPMorgan Cazenove prediction of $4.5 billion. The net debt ratio shrank to 19.4 percent from 22.2 percent at the end of 2018.

Equinor is keeping plans to increase investment to about $11 billion this year after making drastic cuts during the market slump. The company will pay a dividend of 26 cents a share for the quarter, after deciding earlier this year to raise payouts by 13 percent.

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