HOUSTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP) today announced a 50 percent increase in its planned 2018 share repurchase program, from $2 billion to $3 billion. The company expects to fully fund this year’s $3 billion program, as well as its dividend and capital expenditures, with cash from operations.
The 2018 expansion to $3 billion, combined with the $3 billion of shares repurchased during 2016 and 2017, will fully utilize the board of directors’ existing share repurchase authorization of $6 billion.
As a result, the ConocoPhillips board has authorized an additional $9 billion for share repurchases, bringing the total program authorization to $15 billion.
The company initiated its current share repurchase program in late 2016. Including shares already repurchased under this program, as well as future repurchases based on the current share price, the $15 billion authorization represents approximately 20 percent of the total shares outstanding as of Sept. 30, 2016.
The company also announced that it paid down $2.1 billion of balance sheet debt during the second quarter, thereby achieving its stated debt target of $15 billion significantly earlier than the original target date of year-end 2019.
“We believe the expansion and extension of our repurchase program should be viewed as a clear signal that we are committed to delivering on our strategic priorities and that we still see upside potential for our shares,” said Ryan Lance, chairman and chief executive officer. “We have now achieved our debt target well ahead of plan, so we intend to use strong cash flows from the business to increase our return of capital to shareholders, while maintaining capital discipline.”
Lance continued, “Since late 2016, we have built upon our unique portfolio advantage and positioned the company for strong performance through price cycles. We’ve lowered our sustaining price and the cost of supply of our resource base, deleveraged the balance sheet, focused on free cash flow generation, and maintained consistency in our approach to distributions and capital spending. Today’s announcement is another proof point that we remain committed to delivering per-share production and cash flow expansion with compelling through-cycle returns to shareholders.”
The board of directors retains discretion for implementing the repurchase authorization. The level or pace of activity may be affected by various factors, including future earnings, financial condition, capital requirements, levels of indebtedness, credit ratings and other considerations the board of directors deems relevant.
ConocoPhillips is the world’s largest independent E&P company based on production and proved reserves. Headquartered in Houston, Texas, ConocoPhillips had operations and activities in 17 countries, $71 billion of total assets, and approximately 11,200 employees as of March 31, 2018. Production excluding Libya averaged 1,224 MBOED for the three months ended March 31, 2018, and proved reserves were 5.0 billion BOE as of Dec. 31, 2017. For more information, go to www.conocophillips.com.