Exxon CEO Darren Woods Promises Investors a Strong Dividend Despite 2020 Losses

CNBC (03/04/21) Stevens, Pippa

Exxon (XOM) CEO Darren Woods told CNBC on Thursday the oil giant is committed to its dividend even though the company lost more than $20 billion in 2020 and investors are pushing for change. “We’re going to continue to return cash to shareholders through a very strong dividend,” Woods said on CNBC, noting that 2020 was "certainly the worst environment" the oil major has ever faced. Amid the challenges over the last year, Exxon cut its capital spending plan and reduced its workforce in an effort to preserve its dividend. The company’s current yield of 6.2% is among the highest in the S&P 500, making it an attractive bet for investors seeking income. Woods’ comments came a day after Exxon’s annual investor day, where the company highlighted its global portfolio, financial capability, and commitment to reducing emissions through carbon capture. Exxon has faced pressure from investors since at least December, and on Monday the company announced two new board members, including Jeff Ubben. Still, Engine No. 1, a group that's been pushing for change at Exxon since December, said the new board changes are not enough, nominating its own slate of four new directors. The firm, which includes founders from hedge funds such as Partner Fund Management and Jana Partners, has won the support of California pension giant CALSTRS. “While ExxonMobil has now conceded the need for board change, what is missing are directors with diverse track records of success in the energy industry who can position the Company for success in a changing world,” Engine No. 1 said Wednesday.

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