Wednesday, 30 March 2011

BP Woes!

Further headaches for BP, amidst its unwinding Arctic frontier ambitions, with the news that the company and certain managers (incl. former CEO Tony Hayward) could potentially face manslaughter charges with regard to the Deepwater Horizon explosion that killed 11 people.

Obviously it isn't possible for me to assess what actually happened, and I do think it right that if certain persons are to blame then they should be made accountable BUT, I always find it strange that the witch hunt headlines are always aimed at BP despite:

"An official White House report into the accident concluded that blame should be shared among many parties, including BP, Transocean and Halliburton, which was responsible for sealing the well with cement." ( Gulf of Mexico lawsuit fears hit BP share price).

“The investigation report provides critical new information on the causes of this terrible accident. It is evident that a series of complex events, rather than a single mistake or failure, led to the tragedy. Multiple parties, including BP, Halliburton and Transocean, were involved.

“To put it simply, there was a bad cement job and a failure of the shoe track barrier at the bottom of the well, which let hydrocarbons from the reservoir into the production casing. The negative pressure test was accepted when it should not have been, there were failures in well control procedures and in the blow-out preventer; and the rig’s fire and gas system did not prevent ignition.

“Based on the report, it would appear unlikely that the well design contributed to the incident, as the investigation found that the hydrocarbons flowed up the production casing through the bottom of the well,” Hayward said."


Putting my investor hat back on, I am also starting to feel really frustrated at BP's inate ability to court controversy at almost every turn which is leading me question why, and if, I should be holding the shares.

From a limited resource point of view, coupled with a growing global demand, the long term prospects must still be compelling but the constant legal headwinds that seem to swirl around the company suggest a fractured management team with an inconsistent strategy.

It may be that this is just an "annus horribilis" for the company and, as an investor,  I just happen to have entered into it. It could also be assumed that the enforced changes to the management team need time to bed in. Only time will tell.

What I do know is that I picked them as a long term hold into my Value and Income portfolio and having re-instated the dividend the company has started to repay that with the first dividend having dropped into my account today but the uncertainty is still unsettling.
Quality earnings and the maintaining of a strong, growing dividend policy would be enough for me as quality would eventually win out.
But, does BP still have that quality or is it living on a past reputation.
Does the uncertainty and the currently unimpressive performance of the management outweigh the company's long term prospects?
Again, only time will tell.

BP @ 458.45, -8.1 (-1.74%)

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