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cleaning up

BP Is Back to Being Profitable

In the seven months since the Macondo oil well exploded, BP executives must have been asking themselves if it's really worth it. They've been universally reviled for ignoring concerns that led to the worst spill in U.S. history. They've had their names dragged through five million barrels of oil the mud. Neighbors are p.o.'d about where they're dumping the thousands of tons of trash from the cleanup. But the company's latest earnings report is a nice little reminder as to why so many little boys and girls dream of one day becoming an oil-company exec — which is that they have the kind of balance sheets that can take a $40 billion hit and still come out profitable in less than a quarter. Even with an additional $7.7 billion in charges related to the delay in sealing the well, BP returned to profitability in the third quarter, ahead of analyst estimates. Net income of $1.79 billion for the quarter was still 66 percent below the previous year's quarterly profit of $5.3 billion. New chief executive Bob Dudley, who replaced Tony Hayward a month ago, said the company is "well on track" for recovery, with deals in place to sell around $14 billion in assets, about half of what BP needs to pay for the consequences of the spill. After the war chest is filled, maybe they can set some of that aside so they don't have to scrimp on cement next time around.

Despite Oil Spill Charge, BP Returns To Profitability [NPR]
BP Profit Drops After Taking Further Charge on Gulf Spill [Bloomberg]

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Photo: Getty Images