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May 24, 2022

Suncor shares out of penalty box, touch $50

No difference between ambition laid out by Elliott and Suncor: CEO

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Suncor Energy Inc. has completed a long slog back to the $50-per-share mark, breaching the psychological level for the first time since 2018 as strength in global oil prices lifts sentiment around Canada’s energy patch. Shares moved as high as $50.07 in early trading Tuesday, before retreating slightly.

That surge in energy prices prompted the company to make a number of shareholder-friendly moves, as Suncor recently announced it would increase its quarterly dividend 12 per cent to $0.47 per share, and would dedicate 100 per cent of excess funds to returning cash to shareholders once it drives its debt down to $9 billion, from the $15.4 billion it disclosed from its most recent quarterly report in March.

Those moves have helped the oil sands giant actually make up ground against many of its peers after years of underperformance. Shares of Suncor are up 56 per cent year to date, outpacing those of rival Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. – up 52 per cent – and the Toronto Stock Exchange’s overall energy subgroup’s return of 37 per cent.

But those years of relative underperformance have put Suncor in the crosshairs of activist Elliott Investment Management, which has launched a campaign looking to shake up management at the firm.

Elliott, which says it has amassed a 3.4 per cent stake in the company, asked for five directors to be added to the board and demanded a management review in the wake of several operational issues and fatalities at Suncor’s operations in recent years.

Among the analysts that follow the stock, there’s a view further upside could be limited. The stock has 12 buys, seven holds and zero sell ratings, with a 12-month average target price of $53.34, indicating the potential for an eight per cent return from current levels.