Eni's Board of Directors, chaired by Lucia Calvosa, approved the unaudited consolidated results for the first quarter of
Having examined the results, Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi said:
“The first quarter of 2021 has been significantly impacted by ongoing national lockdowns, however despite this Eni has achieved significantly improved results, most notably driven by E&P and the chemicals business. Meanwhile, our retail G&P business continued to grow steadily, with year-on-year EBIT increasing by 19% as we leverage our unique and expanding customer base in the power segment and benefit from a greater contribution from extra-commodity services.
The performance of R&M was largely driven by lower demand for fuels across Europe due to the pandemic, plus negative refining margins. Against the backdrop of an ongoing complex scenario, adjusted EBIT of Euro1.3 billion is in line with the first quarter of last year and three times higher than the fourth quarter of 2020, while net profit grew to Euro270 million, an almost five times increase compared to the first quarter of 2020. Across the quarter, we generated around Euro2 billion of organic cash flow before working capital, significantly larger than the Euro1.4 billion of expenditure incurred during the same period. With the pandemic situation gradually improving, and a broadening economic recovery looking more likely, we have been able to improve our outlook for the coming months, forecasting free cash flow generation in 2021 of more than Euro3 billion under a Brent scenario of 60 $/bbl. In this environment, we will continue implementing our decarbonization and energy transition strategy, maintaining a strong focus on the robustness of the balance sheet and targeting a competitive distribution policy to our shareholders.”
- A strengthened upstream price environment in the first quarter 2021 was driven by a recovery in the main market benchmarks: the Brent crude at 61 $/bbl on average was up by 21% and 38% respectively from the first quarter and fourth quarter 2020. Eni’s hydrocarbons realized prices did not capture this improvement entirely due to the appreciation of the cross-rate EUR vs. USD which was up by about 10%.
- Eni’s benchmark refining margin “SERM” was in negative territory (down to minus 0.6 $/bbl) due to the impact of lockdowns and a delayed recovery in air traffic.
- Adjusted EBIT: Euro 1.3 billion in the first quarter of 2021, a strong improvement from the fourth quarter of 2020 (up by 171%) with flat hydrocarbon production (1.7 million boe/d). The first quarter 2021 EBIT was unchanged from the first quarter 2020 notwithstanding 86 kboe/d of lower production, mainly in liquids, and the negative performances of R&M (down by Euro240 million) driven by an unfavourable refining scenario (the SERM was negative) and lower sales volumes due to regional lockdowns (a 10% decrease at the network of service stations), and of the GGP business which was down by Euro 263 million mainly due to one-off positive contributions from portfolio optimization in the year-ago quarter and narrowing spreads between the PSV vs. the TTF spot gas prices. The E&P segment EBIT was up by Euro 341 million due to higher crude oil prices. Versalis (up by Euro 104 million) responded to the unusual industry-wide disruption from extreme winter weather in the US by leveraging on higher plant availability against the backdrop of an improving demand for commodities.
- Adjusted net profit: Euro 270 million, almost five-fold the result reported in the first quarter 2020.
- Cash flow from operations before changes in working capital at replacement cost: Euro 1.96 billion and net capex of Euro 1.4 billion (-27% vs. IQ 2020). Organic free cash flow generation was robust at approximately Euro 600 million before changes in working capital.
- Portfolio: net cash outflows of about Euro 400 million, fully invested in the green business.
- Net borrowings ante IFRS 16: Euro12.2 billion, a slight increase vs. December 31, 2020 due to the financing of M&A transactions and currency translation effects. Leverage was flat at 31%.
- The rebalancing of the global oil market and a recovery in fuel consumption in the course of 2021 are exposed to continued risk from the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in a number of large global economies, such as in multiple West European countries that are still in lockdown, as well as new restrictions being reimposed in other parts of the world.
- Reaffirming the guidance for hydrocarbon production at about 1.7 million boe/d for the FY, assuming OPEC+ cuts of about 35 kboe/d through the year on average, and an organic capex spending forecast for 2021 of approximately Euro 6 billion; forecast cash flow from operations before working capital requirements at replacement cost higher than Euro 9 billion at current Brent prices of 60 $/bbl.
- Cash neutrality at a Brent price of 51 $/bbl to fund organic capex and the floor dividend.
- The outlook for oil prices will be reassessed in Eni’s 2021 interim report in July for the purpose of establishing the variable dividend as well as in view of the possible resumption of the buy-back of the Eni share. The floor dividend set at Euro 0.36 per share will be complemented by a variable dividend, which amount will increase when the Brent reference price for 2021 rises above the threshold of 43 $/bbl. The share buy-back program is expected to resume with a Brent reference price 2021 of at least 56 $/bbl.