A better than expected contribution from the Pluto LNG project helped Woodside Petroleum post splendid full year results (it has a calendar year end). A 31% increase in production to 85m barrels of oil equivalent (mmboe) drove a 30% increase in revenue to US$6.2bn. Reported net profit jumped 98% to US$2.9bn, although this included a one-off gain of US$974m from the sale of equity in the Browse gas field. On an underlying basis, net profit rose 25% to US$2.1bn. From underlying earnings per share of US$2.53, up 21%, Woodside will pay US$1.30 in fully franked dividends (ex date 25 February).
Pluto has been a remarkable achievement. No project in LNG history has gone from discovery to production as fast. None have been as expensive either. We maintain that, without expansion, the project will earn horribly low returns on capital.