Milan — Italy’s Eni cut its dividend and announced further spending cuts after swinging to an adjusted net loss in what it described as the oil and gas industry’s worst-ever quarter.
All big energy companies have been hard hit by the impact of COVID-19 and lockdowns to curtail its spread, which have sapped demand and weakened the outlook for energy prices.
Eni, which had already flagged asset writedowns for the period, reported an adjusted net loss of 714 million euros ($839 million) in the second quarter versus a profit of 562 million a year earlier.
Eni shares were down 3.5% by 0830 GMT while the European oil and gas index was up 0.2%.
The company, which trimmed its production forecasts for the year, said it would cut costs and investments to the tune of 8 billion euros through the next four years.
That includes cuts of 4 billion euros this year, some 1.1 billon more than previous estimates.
It also introduced a new dividend policy tied to the price of Brent, offering a floor of 0.36 euros. Based on current price scenarios that indicates a 0.55 euro payout this year. In February the company promised a dividend of 0.89 euros.
“The forecasts for the next two years, the COVID-19 impact and the uncertainty on demand have created the need to review our dividend,” CEO Claudio Descalzi said.
As many energy companies take on debt to tackle COVID and the oil price rout, investors, already anticipating poor earnings, are focusing on management plans to save cash.
Eni, whose operating cash flow fell 69% in the quarter to 1.4 billion euros, said it had liquidity of 17.7 billion euros, four times its short-term debt.
“We … had assumed the annual dividend would be reduced by 33% … but the company has announced a more bearish and complicated dividend policy,” broker Redburn said in a note.
Descalzi, who was re-appointed for a third term in office in May, pledged in February to cut oil production and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in one of the industry’s most ambitious clean-up drives.
The group, which will increase investments in its biorefinery and renewable energy businesses, said its new green businesses would account for 17% of investments in the next four years, up from a previous 12%, and would reach 26% in 2023.
Eni plans to reduce its oil production from 2025 and ensure natural gas, which emits less carbon when burnt than oil, makes up more of its overall output.
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