ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP) on July 12 announced a 50% increase in its planned 2018 share repurchase program, from $2 billion to $3 billion.
The company expects to fully fund this year’s $3 billion program, as well as its dividend and capex, with cash from operations.
The 2018 expansion to $3 billion, combined with the $3 billion of shares repurchased during 2016 and 2017, will fully utilize the board of directors’ existing share repurchase authorization of $6 billion.
As a result, the ConocoPhillips board has authorized an additional $9 billion for share repurchases, bringing the total program authorization to $15 billion.
The company initiated its current share repurchase program in late 2016. Including shares already repurchased under this program, as well as future repurchases based on the current share price, the $15 billion authorization represents approximately 20% of the total shares outstanding as of September 30, 2016.
The company also announced that it paid down $2.1 billion of balance sheet debt during the second-quarter, thereby achieving its stated debt target of $15 billion significantly earlier than the original target date of year-end 2019.
“We believe the expansion and extension of our repurchase program should be viewed as a clear signal that we are committed to delivering on our strategic priorities and that we still see upside potential for our shares,” Ryan Lance, Conoco’s chairman and CEO, said. “We have now achieved our debt target well ahead of plan, so we intend to use strong cash flows from the business to increase our return of capital to shareholders, while maintaining capital discipline.”
The board of directors retains discretion for implementing the repurchase authorization. The level or pace of activity may be affected by various factors, including future earnings, financial condition, capital requirements, levels of indebtedness, credit ratings and other considerations the board of directors deems relevant.