Oil and gas prices have moved down after a big spike earlier this year, but remain high. Meanwhile, well-established producers took advantage of the weaker prices earlier in the pandemic to pick up properties and employees who are harder to find in more-prosperous times.
This company has the strength to survive and to continue paying dividends, even if energy prices drop further.
DEVON ENERGY (New York symbol DVN; www.dvn.com) is one of the largest explorers and producers of oil and gas in the U.S.
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Devon continues to use acquisitions to expand its operations in its core areas. In January 2021, it completed its merger with WPX Energy (symbol WPX on New York) to create one of the biggest U.S. shale producers.
Apart from considerable cost savings resulting from combining operations, Devon and WPX have abandoned the shale industry’s old strategy of pursuing rapid production growth at all costs. They are instead focusing on generating income that exceeds drilling expenses and on returning excess cash to shareholders.
Meanwhile, Devon recently announced the purchase of the Williston Basin assets of RimRock Oil & Gas, LP. The deal was for $865 million. This transaction adds a contiguous position of 38,000 net acres directly offsetting and overlapping Devon’s existing position. The transaction also adds more than 100 highly attractive undrilled inventory locations.
New assets add immediately to the company’s cash flow. Because of that, Devon recently raised its fixed quarterly dividend by 12.5%, to $0.18 from $0.16. That gives the shares a 1.0% yield.
Energy Stocks: Excess free cash flow goes straight to shareholders
Meanwhile, the company continues to sell less-important assets to improve shareholder value. It has sold its Barnett shale property in Texas for $300 million. Depending on future production levels and oil prices, Devon could receive up to $260 million in additional payments.
The company also continues to pay out as much as 50% of excess free cash flow in dividends, which is on top of its fixed dividend. In the latest quarter, that extra payout was a very high $1.37 a share (for an annualized yield of 8.7% based on the latest quarter).
Devon has also announced an increase in its 2022 share repurchase program to $2.0 billion (extended through to the end of May 2023). So far in 2022, it has bought back 19.1 million shares for $891 million.
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