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by Stockwatch Business Reporter
West Texas Intermediate crude for June delivery lost $1.43 to $63.58 on the New York Merc, while Brent for June lost $1.31 to $67.25 (all figures in this para U.S.). Western Canadian Select traded at a discount of $11.90 to WTI, up from a discount of $12.00. Natural gas for June added two cents to $2.93. The TSX energy index lost 1.10 points to close at 117.91.
Alberta oil sands giant Imperial Oil Ltd. (IMO) added $1.62 to $35.50 on 4.46 million shares, as it closed the door on the COVID-19 downturn by announcing an increased share buyback program and the largest dividend hike in its history. It made the announcement alongside the release of its first quarter financials this morning. Production for the quarter averaged 432,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day, "the highest first quarter production in 30 years," boasted Imperial. Cash flow of $1.42 a share exceeded analysts' expectations of $1.25 a share.
President and chief executive officer Brad Corson, declaring himself "extremely proud" of Imperial's performance in the first quarter, said the company is showing further "confidence in its future" by announcing the share buyback and dividend increases. The company now plans to repurchase up to 4 per cent of its 734 million shares, or 29.3 million. That compares with the previous maximum of 50,000. That is not a typo -- under the prior program that Imperial approved last June, it was allowed to buy back a mere 50,000 shares, or just enough to offset any dilution from its RSU (restricted stock unit) plan. The revised program is more respectably ambitious.
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