By Waverly Colville
ConocoPhillips (COP) is boosting its 2018 buyback program by 50% to $3 billion in cash, the company announced Thursday.
The board increased the buyback authorization by $9 billion, bringing the total authorization to $15 billion. The initial $6 billion limit is set to be maxed out, given the buyback expansion and $3 billion of repurchased in 2016 and 2017.
The company estimates that the $15 billion authorization represents about 20% of the shares outstanding as of Sept. 30, 2016, based shares already bought back and future buybacks based on the current stock price.
The Houston-based energy company started repurchasing shares in late 2016. Chairman and Chief Executive Ryan Lance said in prepared remarks that the expanded buyback program is a signal the company sees upside potential in its shares.
ConocoPhillips also said it has paid off $2.1 billion of debt during the second quarter, reaching its goal of $15 billion in debt much earlier than its late 2019 forecast.
Shares were up 1.4% during pretrading Thursday.
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