The past month has seen a couple of news items released concerning the BP share price (LON: BP) (BP.L). Most recently, the FTSE 100 (INDEXFTSE: UKX) oil and gas stock released an update on 6 April concerning its progress toward a $35 billion net debt target.
In the first quarter of the year, the company received around $4.7 billion of proceeds from the disposal of assets. They were made up of $2.4 billion from the sale of a 20% interest in Oman’s Block 61, $1 billion from the sale of the firm’s petrochemicals business, $0.7 billion from the sale of 49% in a controlled affiliate holding, and $0.4 billion from the sale of an interest in Palantir.
As a result of those disposals, BP now anticipates that disposal proceeds in 2021 will be at the upper end of its previously announced range of $4 billion to $6 billion. Meanwhile, its $25 billion disposal target between 2020 and 2025 is now underpinned by $14.7 billion of completed transactions.
The company’s disposals have been coupled with stronger business performance in the first part of 2021. As such, it now expects to have reached its $35 billion net debt target in the first quarter of 2021. After reaching its target, it plans to return at least 60% of surplus cash flow to shareholders through buybacks, according to its update.
Commenting on the news regarding net debt levels, BP’s CEO Bernard Looney stated: “We are pleased to announce that we now expect to have reached our $35 billion net debt target during the first quarter 2021. This is a result of earlier than anticipated delivery of disposal proceeds combined with very strong business performance during the first quarter”.
Other news concerning the BP share price over the last month included the retirement of a non-executive director. Professor Dame Ann Dowling will retire alongside previously announced retiree Brendan Nelson on 12 May 2021, which is the day of the company’s annual general meeting (AGM).
On the topic of directors, there have been some transactions in the firm’s shares over the past month, according to its regulatory news feed. On 10 March, CEO Bernard Looney acquired 97 BP shares at a price of 315.25p. They were acquired through the company’s ShareMatch UK Plan.
In addition, non-executive director John Sawers bought £426.30 worth of BP shares on 26 March. This was part of a dividend reinvestment programme (DRIP).
Over the past month the firm’s stock price has fallen by 6.5% compared to the FTSE 100 index’s 3% gain. In the past year and five years, BP’s share price is down 11% and 15%, respectively. The company’s next investor update is scheduled for 27 April, when the firm is expected to announce its first quarter results.