TotalEnergies lifts dividend and plans buybacks as profits hit record

TotalEnergies raised its dividend and announced further share buybacks after annual profits at France’s largest oil and gas company doubled to a record as fossil fuel prices soared.

The French group was hit by close to $15bn in impairments last year as it began to retreat from Russia. Windfall taxes in Britain and Europe also dragged on earnings in the fourth quarter.

But Total’s net profits still rose in 2022 overall, to a record $20.5bn, and surpassed analyst expectations on an adjusted basis, reaching $36bn as the group joined rivals from Shell to BP in posting bumper results.

The company on Wednesday said it would increase its dividend by 6.4 per cent to 2.81 euros per share, on top of a 1 euro per share special payout it had already announced, and said it would buy back another $2bn worth of shares in the first quarter.

Total also confirmed a plan to spin off its exploration and production business in Canada in a Toronto listing, adding it would keep 30 per cent of the business and distribute the rest of the shares to its own shareholders.

The French oil and gas group was boosted in particular by strong income from liquefied natural gas trading, as Russia’s war in Ukraine sent commodities prices soaring.

Total has been in the spotlight over its exposure to Adani Group, as one of the biggest foreign investors in businesses owned by the Indian company, which is under fire from a short seller over allegations of accounting fraud. Adani denies the allegations.

Total has played down the financial fallout on its own operations, saying last week that its exposure to gas and renewable energy ventures with Adani was $3.1bn, or 2.4 per cent of its capital employed, and that it was comfortable with its due diligence.

Total has begun retreating from Russia, although it still exports to Europe via one LNG plant, a trade that has not come under international sanctions. It said it would no longer account for any Russian revenues in its earnings from 2023.

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