A different message from the Gulf of Mexico: Buy BP shares

Influential quarters are piling onto stricken BP. President Obama suggests the company hasn’t been "fully forthcoming" with the public. Newsweek’s Matthew Philips delivers a portrait of this once ultra-media savvy company’s attitude toward photographers covering the Gulf that resembles Russia’s in Chechyna. Over at Reuters’ Breakingviews, Robin Cox and Christopher Swann say weakened BP seems ...

Sean Gardner/-Pool/Getty Images
Sean Gardner/-Pool/Getty Images
Sean Gardner/-Pool/Getty Images

Influential quarters are piling onto stricken BP. President Obama suggests the company hasn't been "fully forthcoming" with the public. Newsweek's Matthew Philips delivers a portrait of this once ultra-media savvy company's attitude toward photographers covering the Gulf that resembles Russia's in Chechyna. Over at Reuters' Breakingviews, Robin Cox and Christopher Swann say weakened BP seems ripe for takeover by a competitor -- BP's shares have plunged 25 percent since the April 20 Gulf of Mexico spill, and Reuters' Joshua Shneyer reports that the company could be liable for civil fines of $4,300 per spilled barrel, or roughly $3 billion at the volume that scientists believe had been disgorged as of yesterday. Adding insult to injury, hackers seized control of BP's Twitter feed, Matthew Shaer of the Christian Science Monitor reports.

All of which in other corners means it's time to buy BP shares. Mark Gilman, an oil analyst at Benchmark not prone to jump on bandwagons, leapt ahead of his peers once again two days ago with a buy recommendation on BP. Gilman argues that BP will probably pay $20 billion in fines, penalties and so forth, far less than $80 billion-$110 billion range that he says the company's share-price collapse implies. Yesterday, Fadel Gheit of Oppenheimer, who knows the history of the companies better than most of his peers, also recommended buying BP. He also thinks that BP's fines and spill-related costs will be confined to about $20 billion, and notes that its 7.9 percent dividend is the highest among the Big Oil companies.

Of course, given the skittish market, BP's shares could go the other way as well. Yet, as of yesterday, BP's shares were up 9% from a 52-week low of $40.61 on Monday.

Influential quarters are piling onto stricken BP. President Obama suggests the company hasn’t been "fully forthcoming" with the public. Newsweek’s Matthew Philips delivers a portrait of this once ultra-media savvy company’s attitude toward photographers covering the Gulf that resembles Russia’s in Chechyna. Over at Reuters’ Breakingviews, Robin Cox and Christopher Swann say weakened BP seems ripe for takeover by a competitor — BP’s shares have plunged 25 percent since the April 20 Gulf of Mexico spill, and Reuters’ Joshua Shneyer reports that the company could be liable for civil fines of $4,300 per spilled barrel, or roughly $3 billion at the volume that scientists believe had been disgorged as of yesterday. Adding insult to injury, hackers seized control of BP’s Twitter feed, Matthew Shaer of the Christian Science Monitor reports.

All of which in other corners means it’s time to buy BP shares. Mark Gilman, an oil analyst at Benchmark not prone to jump on bandwagons, leapt ahead of his peers once again two days ago with a buy recommendation on BP. Gilman argues that BP will probably pay $20 billion in fines, penalties and so forth, far less than $80 billion-$110 billion range that he says the company’s share-price collapse implies. Yesterday, Fadel Gheit of Oppenheimer, who knows the history of the companies better than most of his peers, also recommended buying BP. He also thinks that BP’s fines and spill-related costs will be confined to about $20 billion, and notes that its 7.9 percent dividend is the highest among the Big Oil companies.

Of course, given the skittish market, BP’s shares could go the other way as well. Yet, as of yesterday, BP’s shares were up 9% from a 52-week low of $40.61 on Monday.

<p> Steve LeVine is a contributing editor at Foreign Policy, a Schwartz Fellow at the New America Foundation, and author of The Oil and the Glory. </p>

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