Exxon lifts share buyback to $50 billion after record profit

Kevin Crowley, Bloomberg December 08, 2022

(Bloomberg) — Exxon Mobil Corp. raised its annual share buyback by about 10%, six weeks after the oil giant posted its highest profit in its 152-year history.

Exxon will now repurchase $50 billion of stock through 2024, expanding its previous plan of $30 billion through 2023, the Irving, Texas-based company said in a statement. The buyback will now include $15 billion of share repurchases this year, which would be the highest annual total since 2013, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“The runway on the buyback is likely to be well received, we think, as it provides visibility, relative to some peers that guide on a quarterly basis,” RBC Capital Markets analyst Biraj Borkhataria wrote in a note.

The shares jumped 2.1% to $105.83 at 9:44 a.m. in New York. West Texas Intermediate futures climbed 2% to above $73 a barrel. Exxon stock is up about 73% this year, which would be its best annual performance of the modern era if it holds through Dec. 31.

It is the second time Exxon raised the buyback this year and comes after the company posted record earnings the second and third quarters, largely due to soaring oil and gas prices following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. President Joe Biden criticized the industry’s profits, calling them a “windfall of war” and threatened punitive measures such as taxes if they gave too much to shareholders and failed to reinvest enough in new production to ease prices for consumers. 

Exxon set its capital budget at about $24 billion for 2023, higher than this year and near the top end of its $20 billion-$25 billion guided range. Before the pandemic, the company was spending more than $30 billion a year on new investments. Chevron also announced higher spending next year, but like Exxon, it refused to increase its medium-term range in spite of political pressure. 

Exxon spending on “lower-emission initiatives” will increase 15% to about $17 billion. Overall, the budget is expected to double earnings and cash flow potential to 2027 from 2019, which was a strategic priority for CEO Darren Woods when he took the job five years ago. By 2027, Exxon should be producing 4.2 million barrels a day, about 14% higher than current levels, with more than half of its output coming from key growth areas like Guyana and the Permian Basin.

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