Woodside Petroleum Limited hit by falling oil prices

Credit: greig davidson

Woodside Petroleum Limited (ASX: WPL) has seen its revenues plunge by 36% for the 2015 financial year (FY15) thanks mainly to lower oil prices. In ear

The average price for Brent Crude during 2015 was US$53.60 – 46% lower than the average price in 2014. Long-term gas contracts at lagging prices helped Woodside limit the downside to just 36%, although a 3% fall in production to 92.2 million barrels of oil equivalent (MMboe) also added to the falling sales.

Woodside was also forced to writedown the value of its assets by US$1,083 million, plus additional one-off expenses of US$491 million.

Still, it was the oil and gas producer’s second-highest annual production in the company’s history.

Here are more of the highlights for FY15…

  • Reported net profit – US$26 million – down 99%
  • Underlying net profit – US$1,126 million, a 57% fall compared to the 2014 financial year (FY14)
  • Sales revenue – US$4,496 million, down 36%
  • Operating cash flow of US$2,376 million, down 50%
  • Net debt soared to US$4.3 billion from a cash position of US$682 million in FY14
  • Dividends per share – US$1.09, down 57% from the US$2.55 declared in FY14. That includes a 43 US cent final dividend to go with the 66 US cent interim dividend.

Sceptical investors might wonder whether the writedowns could have been higher but the company and its auditors came to an agreement so Woodside could report a profit instead of a loss.

What now for Woodside?

The company has forecast a production target range of between 86 and 93 million barrels of oil equivalent, with the mid-point suggesting lower production in the 2016 financial year than 2015.

Oil prices are even lower than the 2015 average so far in 2016, and long-term gas contracts on lagging prices will likely make more of an impact on Woodside’s revenues in 2016, suggesting potentially lower revenues, more writedowns and highly likely lower profits and another cut to the dividend.

Foolish takeaway

With a mountain of debt, lower oil prices and falling production, Woodside is a much riskier proposition than it was over the past few years. Buyer beware.

In early trading, Woodside share price was down 4.8% to $28.12.

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Motley Fool writer/analyst Mike King doesn't own shares in any companies mentioned. You can follow Mike on Twitter @TMFKinga

Unless otherwise noted, the author does not have a position in any stocks mentioned by the author in the comments below. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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