Dividend Hike From Exxon Mobil Takes Aim at Chevron

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Investors love dividends. After all, dividends can account for almost half of total returns over the course of an investing life. And companies that raise dividends year after year are often sought out by investors. It might seem surprising on the surface after so many quarterly reports have been under pressure until recently, but some oil giants continue to maintain high dividends, and other oil giants have continued to raise those dividends.

Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) has declared a cash dividend of $0.82 per share on its common stock, compared with a prior dividend per share of $0.77. The new higher dividend will be payable on June 11, 2018, to shareholders of record of common stock at the close of business on May 14, 2018.

Exxon has now increased its annual dividend payment to shareholders for 36 consecutive years. And investors reacted positively on Wednesday, with Exxon’s stock rising 1.2% to $79.35 right before the close of trading.

The move is consistent with what was seen from Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) earlier in 2018. On February 2, 2018, Chevron reported earnings and included a note regarding a four-cent dividend hike. Chevron even noted that the hike puts the company on track to make 2018 the 31st consecutive year with an increase in annual dividend payout. The company’s $0.04 per share increase in the quarterly dividend took the new payout to $1.12 per share, payable in March 2018.

Back on March 6, Chevron telegraphed its capital spending and shareholder return plans at its annual security analyst meeting in New York. The company’s statement showed that Chevron intends to grow free cash flow in 2018 and thereafter and expects to deliver stronger upstream cash margins and production growth even without higher oil and gas prices. Chevron is planning an $18 billion investment program in 2018 and an $18 billion to $20 billion annual investment range projected through 2020. Chairman and CEO Michael Wirth did address the dividend by saying this:

We plan to further lower our cost structure, get more value from our existing assets and continue to high-grade our portfolio. We believe execution of these plans will support our primary commitment to shareholders, which is a sustained and growing dividend over time. As we generate surplus cash, we would expect to be in a position to resume our share repurchase program.

24/7 Wall St. is not counting Exxon and Chevron in its list of companies that have raised their dividends for 50 consecutive years quite yet, but that may change in the years ahead.

The current dividend yield for Exxon Mobil was already 4.05%, versus almost 3.7% from Chevron’s dividend yield.

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