Oil corporations like BP (British Petroleum) may be the companies everyone loves to hate, but they are perennial favorites of investors. If you are considering investing in BP, you want to research it just as you would any other firm. The place to start is with the stock symbol for BP so you can find information and stock quotes on financial websites. Read on for some information along with an overview of the company and its history.
Headquartered in London, England, BP is a public stock corporation traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and the London Stock Exchange (LSE) with the stock symbol of BP for both exchanges. Stock can be purchased on either market through NYSE/Euronext. To get updated stock prices, use the stock symbol on financial websites or go to BP investor Relations, where the stock is quoted in U.S. dollars, British pounds and Euros (see Resources below).
Beginning in 1901, a British team funded by entrepreneur William D'Arcy began searching for oil in Persia (modern-day Iran). By 1908, D'Arcy was near bankruptcy when the team headed by George Reynolds finally struck oil. The Anglo-Persian Oil Company was founded, later to become British Petroleum. By 1914, after constructing a pipeline and refinery, the company faced a second crisis. Unable to penetrate the American market against the monopoly of Standard Oil, they had few customers. Rescue came via Winston Churchill, who persuaded the Royal Navy to contract with the struggling firm. The outbreak of the First World War assured the company's survival and profitability. Rapid growth in the use of automobiles in the 1920s aided company growth. World War II was less kind--wartime rationing and pooling arrangements cost BP considerably. In the postwar era, the company continued to expand its markets and oil exploration efforts, including participating in the discovery of the Prudhoe Bay (Alaska) and Fortes (off the shore of Scotland) oil fields. Efforts by a newly independent Iran to nationalize operations were successfully countered in 1951, but in the 1970s virtually most Arab nations joined in a successful bid to nationalize oil production. BP turned to other regions in its oil exploration efforts and Mid East oil now amounts to 10 percent of their production. Since 2000, the company began to invest heavily in research and development of alternative fuels and energy technology in response to growing concerns over global warming and climate change.
The central business of BP is producing energy from oil and Natural Gas. In addition to extracting and refining crude oil from fields around the world, the company has several important subsidiaries. These include Arco gas stations/convenience stores, Castrol automotive products and Air BP (aviation fuel).
Revenues for 2007 were $291 billion, with net income of $20.845 billion. These figures may be somewhat misleading since they reflect sales and profit increases resulting the spikes in the commodity price of crude oil at that time. The company's assets total $236 billion, with equity of $93 billion. As of 2008, BP had a total employment of over 96,000.
BP's Investor relations website is an investor-friendly source of information, although you'll want to check independent sources such as financial publications as well. You can download annual reports and other financial documents, use interactive charts and other tools for shareholders, and check stock and dividend histories. BP offers a direct stock purchase plan for American stockholders. Participation is free and there are no transaction fees. A minimum investment of $250 is required but can be broken down into up to five monthly $50 increments if automatically debited from a checking account. The plan includes dividend reinvestment and the option of regular contributions via automatic debit arrangements. You can get the plan prospectus and/or enroll online using the link below.