BP's beleaguered investors can't catch a break. Weeks after the British oil giant vanquished its busted well, the company's stock continues to fall.
Shares slid $1.20, or 3.3 percent, to $34.92 Tuesday. The shares hit $34.50 at one point, their lowest level in more than a month, and they've tumbled 18.4 percent in the past 12 trading days. During that same period, the Amex Oil & Gas index, which includes BP as a component, fell 8.7 percent.
BP's stock rebounded in late July and early August after the company choked off the oil spewing from the floor of the Gulf of Mexico. But investors have recently cashed in some profits. Analysts say they're now concerned about what comes next for the company.
BP's expenses could jump considerably if investigators determine the company was grossly negligent in operating the well. That determination could mean the difference between a federal fine of $4.9 billion and fine of $17.6 billion. A finding of gross negligence also would excuse the company's partners — Anadarko Petroleum Corp. and MOEX Offshore 2007 LLC — from paying their 35 percent share of the spill costs.
So far, BP has spent more than $6 billion, including nearly $400 million in payments to individuals and businesses. BP also agreed to set aside another $20 billion to handle future claims.
"The total tally for this could be a lot more than $20 billion," Morningstar analyst Allen Good said. "There's still a lot of uncertainty when it comes to BP."
BP led a broader drop in oil stocks Tuesday. Shares of Exxon Mobil and ConocoPhillips while Anadarko and Chevron shares fell slightly more than 1 percent.
Good said the rest of the industry fell as the price of oil dropped. Benchmark crude prices fell $1.48, about 2 percent, to $71.62 on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
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