SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) — Halliburton Co., coming off a banner year in the energy sector and flush with Pentagon contracts abroad, announced Thursday a series of measures to share the spoils with shareholders.
The Houston-based company said its board of directors approved a two-for-one stock split that would double its shares outstanding to 2 billion. Stockholders must still sign off on the split.
The quarterly dividend for Halliburton stock was also raised 20% to 15 cents a share. The higher payout is set for March 23 for shareholders as of March 2.
A $1 billion share buyback is also in the works, the company said.
The moves come as Halliburton
is gearing up to spin off part of its KBR division, which last year became the U.S. Army’s biggest contractor. In terms of defense contracts with all branches of the military, Halliburton now ranks sixth overall.
Billions in U.S. military logistics, reconstruction and infrastructure work in Iraq and the Mideast helped propel the company to a top-10 Pentagon contractor slot starting in 2003 when the firm was No. 7 ahead of General Electric Co.
according to Defense Department data. In 2002, Halliburton was in 37th position.
For the oil and gas industry at large, 2005 was a blockbuster year. Exxon Mobil Corp.
reported a record profit for an American corporation of $36.13 billion last year. Revenue totaled $371 billion.
On Thursday, Halliburton stock closed up 3.8% to $71.24. So far this year, Halliburton stock is up about 14%.
The stock set an all-time high earlier this year after the company posted more than $1 billion in fourth-quarter profit and announced its intention to soon file for an IPO of KBR. See full story.
For 2005, the company reported record sales of almost $21 billion and all of the units turned in record results.
After the announcement Thursday, Standard & Poor’s said that the company’s credit ratings wouldn’t be affected by the buyback. S&P noted that the company’s oilfield services businesses will be a source of “meaningful” free operating cash flow this year.
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