Ahead of the Bell: Jefferies downgrades BP PLC

NEW YORK (AP) — A Jefferies analyst lowered future earnings estimates for BP PLC and downgraded its stock Wednesday, after the British oil giant reported a $1.4 billion loss for the second quarter.

BP, one of the world's top oil and natural gas producers, blamed the loss on a decline in commodity prices and production. It also wrote down the value of some of its refineries and U.S. shale gas assets.

Jefferies analyst Iain Reid also noted that BP's operating costs appear to be higher than the rest of the industry. That, combined with an expectation for production to drop even further and the potential for additional liabilities from its 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, should trim profits more than previously expected, Reid said.

The analyst downgraded the stock to "Hold" from "Buy" and cut BP's profit estimates to 90 cents, $1 and $1.01 per share in 2012, 2013 and 2014, respectively. That's lower than previous estimates by 10, 9 and 11 cents, respectively.

The analyst downgraded the stock to "Hold" from "Buy."

BP's U.S.-traded shares fell by 24 cents to $39.66 in premarket trading. They fell 4.6 percent Tuesday after the company released its second-quarter financial results.

The second quarter was tough the rest of the oil industry as well. A decline in oil and natural gas prices contributed to lower profits at Chevron Corp., Royal Dutch Shell, Occidental Petroleum Corp. and ConocoPhillips. Exxon Mobil profits rose, but that was due to a big one-time gain from the sale of Japanese assets.