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ExxonMobil Commits to Dividend Growth and Debt Reduction

By Matthew DiLallo - Mar 3, 2021 at 11:00AM

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The global oil giant makes protecting its payout a priority.

ExxonMobil (XOM 0.79%) outlined its plans to grow shareholder value at its annual investor day on Wednesday. The oil giant expects to increase its earnings and cash flow through 2025, enabling it to sustain and raise its dividend, reduce debt, and finance capital projects. And the company intends to achieve all that while working to commercialize lower-emission technologies.

The centerpiece of Exxon's strategy is a significant investment in high-return capital projects. The company plans to invest $16 billion to $19 billion on high-return, cash-accretive capital projects this year while ramping up its spending to a range of $20 billion to $25 billion annually through 2025. Projects include expanding its oil and gas production in Guyana, Brazil, and the Permian Basin; improving its refining margins; and increasing its high-value performance chemical products, which should generate returns of more than 30%. 

An oil pump and barrel on top of money.

Image source: Getty Images.

Exxon expects these investments to keep its oil and gas production roughly flat over the next several years at 3.7 million barrels per day while increasing its cash flow by reducing costs and improving margins. The company also plans to reduce its annual operating expenses by $6 billion from 2019's level by the end of 2023. Those factors should enable Exxon to grow its cash flow, allowing it to continue increasing its 6.2%-yielding dividend.

Exxon will also develop lower-carbon solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The company recently formed a low-carbon business unit to commercialize low-emissions technologies. It will invest $3 billion through 2025 on carbon capture and storage projects and develop technology that could reduce the cost of producing low-carbon hydrogen.

Exxon also aims to reduce debt by generating excess cash and selling assets. The company recently agreed to sell most of its non-operated offshore properties in the U.K. for $1 billion.  

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