After a terrible year for oil companies because of the pandemic, Total of France reported what analysts said were relatively good financial results.
For the fourth quarter of 2020, Total reported that adjusted net income, a metric followed by investors, declined by 59 percent compared with the period a year earlier, to $1.3 billion. Profit for 2020 declined by 66 percent to $4.1 billion.
Analysts applauded the company for beating its own earnings forecasts, and for not cutting its dividend.
“In a quarter of volatile results and disappointing cash flow for the supermajors, Total delivers a good set of numbers,” Giacomo Romeo, an analyst at Jefferies, an investment bank, said in a note to clients.
When including write-offs on the value of oil fields, Total’s net loss amounted to $7.2 billion for the year.
The company also said it was changing its name to TotalEnergies, a signal that it is increasingly investing in clean energy businesses like wind and solar energy.
“The writing is on the wall,” said Patrick Pouyanné, the company’s chief executive. Low carbon energy is the future, he said.
He also said that at present oil remained “at the core” of Total’s business and that the cash produced by oil can be used to finance its investments in cleaner technologies.
The company is based in Paris but global in scope with strong positions in Europe but also in Africa, the Middle East and Russia.
Unlike its European rivals Royal Dutch Shell and BP, which cut their dividends during the year, Total is holding its dividend steady. Mr. Pouyanné said that this policy strengthened the company’s relationship with investors, who expect the company to maintain its payouts through ups and downs.
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