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Canadian Natural Resources Lifts Dividend After Posting Record Production

Canadian Natural Resources (NYSE: CNQ) is raising its quarterly dividend as it posted consensus-beating earnings for Q4, driven by record-high oil and natural gas production last year.

Canadian Natural Resources, the biggest oil and gas producer in Canada by market capitalization, reported on Thursday adjusted earnings per share of US$1.72 (C$2.34) for the fourth quarter of 2023, higher than the average analyst estimate of US$1.58 (C$2.15) compiled by LSEG. 

The company boasted record oil and gas production volumes for both the fourth quarter and the full year.

Annual average production was about 1.332 million barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd) in 2023, up by 4% on the year, with record oil sands output that rose by 6% year-over-year. Canadian Natural Resources also saw a record quarterly average total production of approximately 1.42 million boepd in Q4, up by 10% compared to the fourth quarter of 2022.

Subsequent to quarter end, the Board of Directors approved a 5% increase to quarterly dividend to US$0.77 (C$1.05) per common share.

“As per our free cash flow allocation policy, we will now target to return 100% of free cash flow to shareholders through dividends and share buybacks,” chief financial officer Mark Stainthorpe said in a statement.  

Canadian Natural's Vice Chairman, Tim McKay, commented, “We achieved record annual production while growing our reserves organically on both a total proved and total proved plus probable basis, with reserve replacement ratios of 166% and 194% respectively.” 

The U.S.-listed shares of Canadian Natural Resources jumped by 5% after the results announcement on Thursday.

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Last week, another major Canadian producer, Suncor Energy, also beat Q4 quarterly earnings estimates as its oil sands production jumped to an all-time high, and total upstream production was the second highest in company history. The higher upstream production and strong downstream operations in the fourth quarter helped Suncor beat analyst estimates, despite the lower profits that all oil companies have reported this earnings season, due to weaker oil and natural gas prices.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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