BP plc: it’s never too late…

While the share price of BP (LON: BP) has risen by 8% in the last month, the oil major’s shares are still down by 20% in the last year. Look back a little further and there is more pain, with BP’s valuation having fallen by 45% in the last ten years as a number of crises have shattered investor sentiment in the global resources play.

Clearly, the current oil price crisis has not yet gone away. While the price of oil is now well above its recent low, it remains at a relatively low ebb and far below where most investors thought it would be at a time when demand from emerging economies is set to grow. And with a low oil price hurting the profitability of BP and its sector peers, the company’s bottom line is set to come under further pressure in the current year following a very difficult 2015.

On the cusp of a turnaround

For most of BP’s investors, the low oil price crisis is just another in a series that has included the Deepwater Horizon disaster and Russian sanctions in recent years. Both of these hurt BP’s financial outlook and the former has cost BP $billions in compensation payments. While all three crises will not last indefinitely, it’s of little surprise that many of BP’s investors have given up on the stock. After all, a number of BP’s index peers have offered much better and more stable performance in recent years.

However, BP could be on the cusp of a major turnaround. A key reason for this is that the company’s strategy of reducing costs, becoming more efficient and planning for a lower oil price environment seems to be having a positive impact on its earnings. For example, in the next financial year BP is due to record a rise in its bottom line of 124% and this could cause investor sentiment to experience a step change. That’s especially the case since BP’s shares trade on a price to earnings growth (PEG) ratio of just 0.1, which indicates that they offer exceptional growth potential at a very reasonable price.

One for the long haul

Furthermore, energy usage in the emerging world is forecast to rise at a brisk pace in the coming years. This may not be reflected in the oil price just yet since the supply of oil has risen significantly, but with exploration and investment spend being cut by a range of oil companies, the outlook for the oil price seems to be upbeat since supply could fall and demand may rise.

Clearly, BP remains a relatively risky buy and its value is  largely dependent upon the price of oil. However, with its shares offering good value for money, a sound asset base, and the long term outlook for the oil industry being upbeat, now could be a good time to forget past crises and buy a slice of the company for the long haul.

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Peter Stephens owns shares of BP. The Motley Fool UK has recommended BP. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.