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by Stockwatch Business Reporter
West Texas Intermediate crude for June delivery added 61 cents to $20.39 on the New York Merc, closing above $20 for the first time in about three weeks, while Brent for July added 76 cents to $27.20 (all figures in this para U.S.). Western Canadian Select traded at a discount of $4.90 to WTI, up from a discount of $6.50. Natural gas for June shot up 10 cents to $1.99. The TSX energy index added a fraction to close at 74.01.
Oil sands giant Imperial Oil Ltd. (IMO) added 34 cents to $22.16 on 4.15 million shares. It lost 67 cents on Friday after releasing its first quarter financials, but the weekend seemed to improve investors' mood. Certainly management did its best to send investors into the weekend in good spirits. "I'm very proud of our first quarter performance," declared president and chief executive officer Brad Corson during Friday's conference call. He acknowledged that Imperial posted a loss of $188-million for the quarter, but said that if one strips out all the non-cash charges, which were primarily related to market prices for inventory, then the company would have turned a profit of $113-million. Operationally, Imperial's results were "quite strong," added Mr. Corson. Production of 419,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day was "near a 25-year high for the first quarter." All of this supported Imperial's decision to maintain its 22-cent quarterly dividend (for a yield of 4 per cent). Dan Lyons, senior vice-president of finance and administration, said this underlines "our strong balance sheet and our confidence in the long-term outlook for the business."
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