Shares of Chevron climbed Thursday after the oil company announced that it would repurchase $75 billion of its stock, one of the largest-ever stock buyback plans.
The company’s board also approved an increase of about 6% in its quarterly dividend, to $1.51 per share.
Chevron Corp. said the buyback is effective on April 1, and does not have a fixed expiration date. It replaces a prior repurchase authorization of $25 billion from January 2019 that will end on March 31 after it completes stock buybacks in the first quarter.
The San Ramon, California, has a market cap of roughly $360 billion. Its stock is up more than 40% in the past year, outpacing the broader market which has posted negative returns. In midday trading, the stock more than 4% to $186.30.
But the White House was critical of the announcement.
“For a company that claimed not too long ago that it was ‘working hard’ to increase oil production, handing out $75 billion to executives and wealthy shareholders sure is an odd way to show it," White House spokesman Abdullah Hasan said in a statement. "We continue to call on oil companies to use their record profits to increase supply, and reduce costs for the American people.”
During the third quarter, Chevron said it spent $2.7 billion on dividends, $3.75 billion on stock repurchases and $8.2 billion on capital and exploratory expenditures.
Both Chevron and Exxon Mobil are expected to announce record annual profits for 2022 when they report their earnings over the next few days. Shares of both companies have more than doubled since the start of 2021, outpacing the performance of their counterparts in Europe, where investors are under greater pressure to divest from fossil fuel companies. That’s prompted analysts at Citi to speculate that one of the U.S. oil majors could be interested in acquiring either BP, Total or Shell.
The Citi analysts note that the independent oil companies in Europe trade at a 40% discount to the big U.S. oil companies. “Closing the gap looks to require the industry to seek to arbitrage it itself through cross-border M&A, a re-run of the industry consolidation that took place 20 years ago,” they wrote.