Oil and gas prices have moved up, but the future direction of energy prices depends on economic growth rates around the world. Well-established companies in the industry took advantage of the earlier setback to pick up properties and employees who might be harder to find in more-prosperous times.
That means this firm has the strength to survive and to continue paying dividends even if energy prices drop. That adds an extra layer of safety.
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. from wells in Wyoming, Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico.
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In January 2021, Devon acquired WPX Energy (symbol WPX on New York) for $5.8 billion in stock to create one of the biggest U.S. shale producers. Together, the companies will produce about 584,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day.
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.
Energy Stocks: Dividends are high and a share buyback program continues
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 combined company will work to limit exploration and development spending to 70% to 80% of cash flow and limit production growth to 5%, even in a more favourable oil-price environment. In addition, it also plans to pay out as much as 50% of excess free cash flow in dividends, which would be on top of a fixed dividend of $0.11 per share, Devon’s current rate.
With today’s higher oil and gas prices, Devon continues to raise its dividend payout. With the March 2022 payment, it was set to pay a fixed-plus-variable dividend of $1.00 per share based on the company’s latest financial performance. This represents a 19.0% increase in the dividend payout compared to the previous quarter. Based on the latest dividend, the stock yields a very high 6.4%.
Devon has also announced a $1.0 billion share-repurchase program of common stock through to the end of 2022. This program is equivalent to approximately 4% of the company’s current market capitalization.
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