BP shares trading on U.S. exchanges fell 14 percent in New York on Wednesday on growing worries about the costs the oil company will incur as a result of the Gulf of Mexico oil leak.
Depositary shares were trading at $29.80, down $4.80, on the New York Stock Exchange, the second worst day for the stock since the spill occurred on April 20.
It seems that shares are under pressure from the fear of whether BP can survive. It is not just a rumor about the potential of a dividend cut in BP anymore. Now it's about the survivability of the company, said Jon Najarian, a founder of Web information site optionMonster.com in Chicago.
Frequently panics like this are buying opportunities but given that what is going on is one mile under the ocean no one is comfortable with the facts as presented so far.
Shares were already down on the day in earlier London trading, but gapped lower about 1:30 pm EDT, after an article appeared on Fortune magazine's website quoting oil industry analyst Matthew Simmons, questioning the company's liability and its ability to survive the crisis.
However, the company said on an analysts' conference call on Friday that it has plenty of cash to deal with the problem, and the Obama Administration has made similar comments as the company grapples with clean-up in the Gulf.
Phil Weiss, oil analyst with Argus Research in New York, said momentum was working against BP as news gets progressively worse despite the increased capture of oil from the well, though he continues to believe the company will be able to survive the crisis.
I still feel like they can, but there's more doubt in my mind than there was a week ago, he said. Momentum is a powerful thing.
Concerns that the company will have to suspend its dividend payment under pressure from U.S. politicians who say the money should go toward paying for legal claims and environmental damage in the Gulf have also contributed to the selling. In the past two days alone, seven analysts have cut their expectations on the likely payout.
Stocks also associated with the Gulf spill are down on an otherwise strong day in the U.S. stock market. Transocean , which owns the sunken rig, was off by nearly 8 percent at $42.65, while Anadarko Petroleum lost 7.3 percent to $39.69 a share.
Patrick Mortimer, director of option trading at Pipeline Trading Systems in New Hope, Pennsylvania, said a large put option purchase in the July $32 BP strike added pressure as market makers hedged that put trade by selling stock.
BP reported about $27 bln in cash flow from operations in 2009 and total liabilities amounted to about 56 percent of total assets on its balance sheet of about $235 billion.