CALGARY – Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (TSX:CNQ) will be raising its dividend for the second time in three months, following a year in which net income grew 20 per cent and adjusted profit jumped by 50 per cent.
CNRL president Steve Laut said “2013 was a solid year for Canadian Natural as we achieved significant progress in our transition to longer life, low decline assets.”
The Calgary-based company’s quarterly dividend will rise to 22.5 cents per common share payable April 1.
That’s up 12.5 per cent from the previous dividend of 20 cents paid Jan. 1 and nearly double from a year earlier, when the dividend was 12.5 cents per share.
The dividend hike came just weeks after CNRL announced it would buy Devon Canada’s conventional energy business for more than $3 billion cash.
That was a change of direction for CNRL, which had said in early 2013 that it trying to sell off its own natural gas acreage in British Columbia’s Montney formation — an attempt it abandoned in January.
Despite the strong growth, CNRL’s results fell short of analyst estimates for the fourth quarter.
Its adjusted net income of 52 cents per share in the fourth quarter _ four cents below the general estimate — while cash flow per share was $1.64, 10 cent below the estimate.
Analysts had estimated 56 cents per share of adjusted earnings and $1.74 per share of cash flow from operations in the fourth quarter, according to Thomson Reuters data.
Still, Canadian Natural Resources — one of the country’s largest oil and gas producers — ended 2013 in much better shape than it began the year
It had $2.435 billion of adjusted net income in 2013, including $563 million in the fourth quarter, up from $1.618 billion of adjusted net income in 2012, including $359 million in the fourth quarter.
Without adjustments, CNRL’s net income was $2.27 billion in 2013, including $413 million or 38 cents per share in the fourth quarter — up from $1.89 billion in 2012, including $352 million or 32 cents per share in the fourth quarter.
Total production for the year averaged 671,162 barrels of oil equivalent, representing an increase of three per cent over 2012.
The company credits greater reliability of Horizon Oil Sands operations and strong production at Pelican Lake.
Canadian Natural also realized record cash flow from operations in 2013 of about $7.5 billion, a 24 per cent increase over 2012 thanks to higher overall crude oil volumes and higher prices.