Big Oil Looks Past Profit Crunch as Cash Flow Shows Recovery

cash

Ask any oil-company accountant, “what’s the difference between income and cash flow?” and they’re likely to say income makes the headlines, cash pays the bills.

It may be glib, but there’s a nub of truth there. Cash generation is the yardstick used to judge a company’s ability to invest and pay dividends, and it’s been growing at the biggest oil producers for three quarters in a row.

Last quarter the world’s largest listed energy companies — Exxon Mobil Corp., Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Chevron Corp., Total SA and BP Plc — reported cash from operations of almost $26 billion, up 67 percent from the previous three months and more than double the first-quarter amount, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

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