At this point, BP has lost around $100 billion in market capitalization. Yet even the wildest estimates for the cost of the Gulf of Mexico spill are far below that amount. The Exxon Valdez spill cost around $9 billion in inflation adjusted dollars. Even if this disaster costs triple the Valdez, it’s still far below the $100 billion that’s already been priced in to BP stock.
Of course, the stock price is one issue. BP’s dividend is another. There should be no doubt that the reason BP stock has fallen so far is that investors are worried that the dividend will be affected by the oil spill.
There is reason for concern. Some are concerned that it’s "inappropriate" for BP to be rewarding shareholders during this disaster. There’s even speculation that President Obama will force BP to suspend its dividend.
If BP suspends its dividend, it will almost certainly be acquired by a stronger company. And since BP pays the biggest dividend of any major integrated oil company, it’s not likely that the dividend will return to current levels after an acquisition.
More and more investors are moving their investments into more stable stocks, like pipeline MLPs, like the one from the Small Cap Investor PRO special report, Dividend Paying Small Caps for the Energy Boom. It pays a steady 9.5%, or $1.88 a share.