Conoco Sweetens Shareholder Returns by $5 Billion as Profit Jumps

ConocoPhillips on Thursday raised its shareholder payout target by 50% after the largest U.S. independent oil producer beat Wall Street’s earnings estimates on surging energy prices.

Oil and gas prices have skyrocketed with Western sanctions on major producer Russia throttling energy supply amid a rebound in demand from pandemic lows. Crude is trading about 25% higher since the start of the year and results also benefited from strong natural gas prices.

Shares were down a fraction, to $91.03, in early trading but are up about 26% year to date.

Its production outlook for the year was trimmed about 1% on disruptions to output in Libya, and Conoco said while inflation was increasing its costs, the year’s capital spending budget would remain about $7.8 billion.

Executives are to discuss results during a conference call later today.

Houston, Texas-based ConocoPhillips said the average price received for a barrel of oil and gas rose 77% from a year earlier to $88.57. The company has not hedged any of its oil and gas sales to make the most of higher market prices, it said.

Production of 1.69 million barrels of oil and gas per day (mboed) was in line with Wall Street estimates. The company forecast the current quarter’s output would be in a range of 1.71 million to 1.76 mboed.

ConocoPhillips plans to return $15 billion to shareholders this year through dividends and share buybacks, joining Chevron Corp and others in increasing payouts after years of pressure on producers to limit spending and boost returns.

The company, which kept its spending forecast intact, slightly lowered its full-year production outlook on uncertainty in Libya. It expects production to average 1.74 mboed for the year.

The company’s second-quarter adjusted earnings of $3.91 per share beat Wall Street estimates of $3.80 per share, according to Refintiv IBES data.

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