ConocoPhillips (COP) Plans $3B in Share Repurchaes, $5-$8B in Asset Sales
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ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP) will hold an Analyst and Investor Meeting today to outline the company’s strategy and discuss several planned actions for accelerating the company’s value proposition of a strong balance sheet, growing dividend and disciplined growth. These actions include an initial $3 billion share repurchase program and the initiation of a $5 to $8 billion divestiture program, which will focus primarily on North American natural gas. The company will also provide details on its 2017 operating plan, which further reduces capital expenditures and adjusted operating costs compared with 2016, while delivering modest production growth.
“During the past two years, we have significantly transformed ConocoPhillips to succeed in a lower, more volatile price environment. We’ve lowered the capital intensity and breakeven price of the company, lowered the cost of supply of our investment portfolio, and created strategic flexibility for future price cycles,” said Ryan Lance, chairman and chief executive officer. “We believe our plan offers a differentiated strategy within the E&P sector that is focused on free cash flow generation and improving returns to shareholders. We have positioned ConocoPhillips to deliver double-digit shareholder returns across a range of commodity prices through a combination of peer-leading shareholder distributions and high-return investments.
“The acceleration actions we’ve announced today will allow us to achieve our value proposition priorities at Brent prices of about $50 per barrel,” added Lance. “These priorities include a debt target of $20 billion, a 20 to 30 percent payout of operating cash flows to shareholders, and modest production growth to drive margin and cash flow expansion. In setting out these priorities, our goal is to have strong resilience to low commodity prices with the ability to capture upside during periods of higher prices.”
The company’s 2017 operating plan includes capital expenditures guidance of $5 billion, a decrease of 4 percent compared with 2016 guidance of $5.2 billion and more than 50 percent lower than 2015 capital expenditures and investments of $10.1 billion. Spending in 2017 will focus primarily on flexible unconventional development programs in the Lower 48, conventional projects in Europe, Asia Pacific and Alaska, and base asset maintenance. Approximately $0.6 billion is included for exploration, which is primarily focused on unconventionals, appraisal of the Barossa discovery, and the closeout of deepwater Gulf of Mexico and Nova Scotia drilling obligations.
Full-year 2017 production is expected to be 1,540 to 1,570 thousand barrels of oil equivalent per day (MBOED), which results in flat to 2 percent growth compared with expected full-year 2016 production of approximately 1,540 MBOED when adjusted for 2016 expected dispositions. Growth is expected to come primarily from ramp up at APLNG in Australia, Surmont 2 in Canada and Kebabangan in Malaysia, as well as increased activity in the Lower 48 unconventionals, partly offset by normal field decline. The company’s production outlook excludes Libya.
The company continues to achieve cost reductions across the business. Guidance for 2017 production and operating expenses is approximately $5.2 billion, which results in adjusted operating cost guidance of $6 billion, a 9 percent improvement compared with 2016 adjusted operating cost guidance.
“We believe our company offers one of the most unique value propositions in the E&P sector,” said Lance. “We’ve reset virtually every aspect of the business – our capital program, our cost structure and our portfolio – during the recent industry downturn. Now, we’re in a differential position to generate free cash flow as prices recover and we implement our clear priorities for allocating available cash. In a future of volatile prices, we can demonstrate that our disciplined, returns-focused approach will deliver strong performance for all our stakeholders.”
ConocoPhillips’ Analyst and Investor Meeting will begin at 9 a.m. EST in New York City. A live webcast of the meeting will be made available on the ConocoPhillips Investor Relations site, www.conocophillips.com/investor.
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