Fool Roundtable: BP's Uncapped Potential

Motley Fool Money is a one-hour weekly business radio show syndicated to radio stations across America. On our most recent Motley Fool Money Radio Show, Chris talked with our analysts about the Gulf Coast oil spill and the future of BP (NYSE: BP  ) and other oil-related stocks. You can catch this week's show online at motleyfoolmoney.com.  This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Chris Hill: BP says they have completely sealed the well in the Gulf. The Coast Guard says it is not the end, but that it virtually assures us there will be no chance of oil leaking into the environment. The Deepwater Horizon rig exploded on April 20th, killing 11 workers and creating the largest offshore oil spill in history. Now in terms of the business implications of the well being capped, Tim Hanson, what does BP's future look like to you?

Tim Hanson: One of the things BP has been talking about recently is potentially having all their gas stations in the United States rebranded to go back to Amoco gas stations. That would obviously be expensive and you would potentially lose some of the momentum that company has built up over the years potentially.  But one thing I don't think people like us do enough is remark when things go right. As one of the people who was first out of the gate criticizing BP for the disastrous way they handled the first few weeks of the spill, I think the company deserves some credit going forward for the way they have gotten the skimmers down there, the way they have now shut off the well, and according to a recent NOAA report, a lot of the oil has actually either been dispersed or cleaned up. So BP deserves some credit for that, and if they are able to leverage that going forward, you might have a situation like the Johnson & Johnson voluntary recall many years ago where the company actually gained brand cache over the years by being responsible. So going forward, BP could actually end up gaining some brand equity if they play their cards right.

James Early: For perspective, it has taken them four months to stop a seven-inch pipe from leaking. I tend to think this might seem like good news simply because it is not as bad as it could have been. It is like going into the hospital for a heart attack and finding out you only have an aneurysm or something. It is still bad, right?

Hanson:  It is still good news, in some ways. It's all relative.

Hill: But back to the rebranding, because that is something we have talked about on this show and it has been talked about in the media for a couple of months now. I looked at it as something like this is a fait accompli. But it sounds like you are saying 'no.'

Early: Well that is how it was looking, and obviously it seemed like a savvy move at the time. People were out on Twitter, on the Internet and the newspapers, on every news show criticizing the company for being so atrocious. If you are a consumer of gas, and obviously I think people who buy gasoline aren't necessarily wedded to a brand, you are sort of looking for the cheapest price around. But if you have a company with a horrible reputation, you probably would avoid them. If you saw an Exxon (NYSE: XOM  ) and a BP across the street, at this point, even though people don't like Exxon, you probably don't like BP more. They had some success cleaning up the oil, and I think they deserve some credit for that.

Joe Mayger: One thing I will throw out is big-picture -- refining and marketing for these guys is a tiny part of the business. They really make all their money doing exploration and production.  So that [rebranding] would help the individual station owners, but I am not sure it would really do much for [BP] profit-wise.

Hill: There is still the moratorium on deep-water drilling. Going forward, are there some oil-related companies on anyone's radar that may benefit now that the well is apparently capped for good?

Early: Well there are a ton of companies, Chris, with Gulf exposure that have been on the rocks. Obviously, some of the direct ones are companies like Apache (NYSE: APA  ) or Andarko Petroleum (NYSE: APC  ) . You have also got Chevron (NYSE: CVX  ) and Conoco Phillips (NYSE: COP  ) as well, and I think all of these are going to benefit.

Joe Magyer , James Early, Tim Hanson, and Chris Hill may own stocks discussed during the course of the weekly radio show. To see the stocks they own, follow the links above to view their profiles. Mac Greer doesn't own any of the stocks mentioned.

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