Energy Business

Chevron Dividend and Buyback Policies Being Boosted by Shale

Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) is making a slightly different presentation and pitch at its 2019 annual analyst meeting than in prior years. The oil giant is targeting higher returns and production from the Permian Basin shale plays and strong cash flows to support a dividend hike and ongoing share buybacks.

While the production gains may not seem massive, this is becoming a story in which the size of the company matters, with its $231 billion market cap. Chevron is targeting a 3% to 4% annual rise in production through 2023. Targeting the shale plays was not as common a practice for the largest oil companies in years past, but both Chevron and Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) have increased their production in shale.

The reason should be obvious: faster payoffs with limited risks. Chevron even outlined that its long-held acreage has zero-to-low royalty on more than 80% of its land position and minimal drilling commitments.

Chevron’s capital and exploratory expenditures are being targeted at $19 billion to $22 billion from 2021 to 2023. The company sees unconventional well production rising to 900,000 barrels per day in 2023 from 600,000 by the end of 2020. The company claims that it has added almost 7 billion barrels of resources to its reserves and doubled its portfolio value over the past two years.

Chevron indicated that its dividend is safe. The company expects approximately $30 billion of cash generation in 2019, based on $60 Brent crude prices, to fund its 6% annual dividend increase and to fund roughly $4 billion in share repurchases. Michael Wirth, Chevron’s board chair and chief executive officer, said:

Chevron is operating from a position of strength. The balance sheet is strong. Our dividend breakeven is low. We’re disciplined with capital. And we’re generating strong free cashflow. Chevron has an extremely compelling investment proposition that is going to continue over the long-term.

Investors in Chevron currently receive a dividend yield of about 4%. With shares trading at $122.15, the stock has a 52-week range of $100.22 to $131.08. Its consensus price target was last seen at $137.45.

Note that Exxon Mobil is set to host its annual 2019 investor day on Wednesday, March 6.