Shale explorers Diamondback, Devon boost payouts over production

David Wethe and Paul Takahashi 5/3/2022

(Bloomberg) — Shale drillers Diamondback Energy Inc., Devon Energy Corp. and Coterra Energy Inc. are boosting dividends while keeping oil output flat despite pleas from President Joe Biden to increase supplies and help take some the edge off of inflation.

Diamondback announced a five-fold bump to quarterly payouts on Monday while Devon pledged to lift its dividend by 27% to a record $1.27 a share. Coterra also boosted distributions to shareholders. At the same time, all three shale specialists said they’re holding the line on crude and natural gas output.

As oil and gas producers reap the fattest profits in years, corporate boards and management teams are grappling with pleas from politicians and consumer advocates to plow more of that cash into drilling so energy supplies expand and pump prices drop. 

Although Diamondback, Devon and Coterra are resisting that pressure, rivals including Exxon Mobil Corp., Continental Resources Inc. and Hess Corp. last week signaled they’re taking the brakes off of output.  

“Russia’s actions have increased the volatility in our sector, creating significant swings in commodity prices as a result of uncertainty around global oil supply,” Diamondback Chief Executive Officer Travis Stice said in a statement. “We do not feel that today is the appropriate time to begin spending dollars that would not equate to additional barrels until multiple quarters from today given the uncertainty and volatility currently in the market.”

Diamondback, Devon and Coterra all posted stronger-than-expected first-quarter results on Monday.

Diamondback raised its regularly quarterly payout by 17% to 70 cents a share, and declared a variable dividend of $2.35, bringing the total distribution to $3.05.

Coterra lifted its combined regular and variable payout by 7% to 60 cents a share, payable on May 13.

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