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ConocoPhillips Increases Share Buyback By $10B While Profit Slumps

ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP) reported on Tuesday lower-than-forecast Q4 earnings on the back of lower oil and gas prices, but the Houston-based energy producer also announced a $10-billion increase in its share buyback program.  

ConocoPhillips’ Q4 adjusted earnings came in at $831 million, or $0.76 per share, down from adjusted earnings of $1.3 billion, or $1.13 per share, for the fourth quarter of 2018.  

The Q4 2019 earnings per share fell short of the analyst consensus of $0.80 per share of the Wall Street Journal.  

ConocoPhillips attributed the lower adjusted earnings in Q4 to lower realized prices and volumes. The company’s total realized price was $47.01 per barrel of oil equivalent (boe) in Q4 2019, down by 11 percent from the $53.00 per boe price realized in the fourth quarter of 2018, reflecting lower market prices. Apart from the lower prices, Q4 earnings were impacted by a non-cash impairment related to a pending sale in Niobrara, ConocoPhillips said.

Full-year adjusted earnings also dropped, to $4.0 billion for 2019 from adjusted earnings of $5.3 billion for 2018.

Full-year production from the Lower 48 ‘Big 3’—the Permian, the Eagle Ford, and the Bakken as ConocoPhillips calls those shale regions collectively—increased by 22 percent.

Adjusting for closed sales and acquisitions, ConocoPhillips’ underlying total production in 2019 rose by 59,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, chiefly due to growth from the Big 3, development programs and major projects in Alaska, Europe, and Asia Pacific.  

Despite the weaker prices and weaker earnings compared to 2018, ConocoPhillips generated last year $11.7 billion in cash from operations (CFO), which exceeded the total of $6.6 billion in capital expenditure and investments, $3.5 billion in share repurchases, and $1.5 billion in dividends.

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Along with the 2019 financials, ConocoPhillips announced on Tuesday that its board of directors had voted to increase the company’s existing share buyback by $10 billion to bring it to a total of $25 billion. Since it approved the share repurchase program in late 2016, ConocoPhillips had bought back $9.6 billion in shares through 2019, while it plans $3 billion in share repurchases this year.  

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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