LONDON — In a period of sharply lower prices, the French company fared better in the fourth quarter than some of its peers, reporting adjusted net income on Thursday that beat analyst expectations.
This month, Exxon Mobil, the largest American oil company, that its quarterly earnings fell 58 percent, while Royal Dutch Shell a 56 percent decline. Total’s earnings, as measured by the adjusted net income figure that analysts track, fell by only 26 percent.
The company cited the strength of its refining and chemicals businesses, as well as efforts to control costs.
As if to emphasize the brutal price environment that oil companies are struggling with, futures contracts for West Texas Intermediate crude, an industry benchmark, were down nearly 3 percent on Thursday, to $26.63. Fears of a global slowdown were also weighing on stock markets.
Patrick Pouyanné, Total’s chief executive, the company’s “resilience in a degraded environment.” He also said that he had signed agreements to sell $4 billion in assets during the year as part of a $10 billion streamlining program.
Total’s adjusted net income was $2.1 billion, compared with $2.8 billion a year earlier. The figure was 15 percent higher than analysts had forecast.
Total’s adjusted profit for all of 2015 fell 18 percent to $10.5 billion.
Total’s earnings were “probably the most resilient set of fourth-quarter 2015 results we’ll see from any major,” Oswald Clint, an analyst at Bernstein Research, wrote in a note to clients on Thursday.
But the stock fell anyway, down nearly 3 percent in Paris trading, despite the company’s pledge to maintain dividends.
Total’s board said the dividend for the quarter would remain steady at 61 euro cents, or nearly $0.69, a share. To save cash, though, the company is giving shareholders the option of taking the payout in the form of new shares at a 10 percent discount.
Because of write-downs of the value of assets including an Australian liquefied natural gas project, Total reported a net loss of $1.6 billion for its fourth quarter, before the adjusted income figure, which excludes inventory write-downs and one-time charges. The steep declines in oil and gas prices are prompting many companies to write down the value of some of their properties, resulting in large hits to their reported earnings.
The company’s results were buoyed by the refining and chemical unit, which Mr. Pouyanné ran and streamlined before becoming chief executive in 2014 after , Christophe de Margerie, in a plane crash in Moscow. The unit’s profit rose by 5 percent for the quarter to $1 billion.
Total said that the refining and chemical business in Europe, long a difficult sector for the industry, had improved over the past year because of strong demand for gasoline and lower costs for the oil and gas that are raw materials for those businesses.
And despite the plummeting prices, the company also said its oil and gas production in the fourth quarter had risen 9 percent compared with a year earlier, to an average of 2.3 million barrels a day. It credited the starting of nine new projects, which had been under construction before oil prices went into free fall.