Refiner Phillips 66 said it plans to return up to $12 B more to shareholders by end-2024 through dividends and stock buybacks, sending its shares up as much as 3%.
Refiners have minted huge profits this year, with plants running at record levels to meet strong export demand due to a supply squeeze following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and plant closures.
Phillips posted a bumper $5.4 B profit for its third quarter ended Sept. 30, compared with $402 MM a year earlier. It also returned $1.2 B through share repurchases and dividends during the quarter.
Analysts at Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co, however, said Phillips’ total capital return yield severely lagged that of peers, despite larger-than-expected buybacks in the third quarter.
The company, which plans to boost adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization by $3 B over the next three years, said its board had approved an additional $5 B for stock buybacks.
Phillips’ hefty investor-return plan comes at a time U.S. President Joe Biden has demanded that energy companies invest their profit into boosting production before considering shareholder returns.
The company also said it reduced employee headcount by 1,100 as it seeks to meet its savings target of $500 MM by end-2022 and aims to save $1 billion in costs by end-2023.
“These (job) reductions were communicated to employees in late October,” Phillips spokesperson Bernardo Fallas told Reuters.
It expects $2 B in annual capital spend through 2024.
“Improving our refining performance is absolutely key to enhancing our strong history of returning cash to shareholders,” CEO Mark Lashier said on the investor call, adding that shareholders can expect an increase in annual dividends “going forward”.
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