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May 5, 2020

Suncor slashes dividend 55%, swings to $3.5B quarterly loss

Suncor slashes dividend 55% amid COVID-19, oil price woes

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Suncor Energy Inc. is cutting its dividend by more than half after it swung to a multi-billion-dollar loss in the first quarter as the COVID-19 pandemic and a short-lived price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia battered crude prices.

The Calgary-based company reported a $3.53-billion net loss for the first-quarter late Tuesday, compared to a profit of $1.47 billion a year earlier. In addition to weak commodity prices, the quarterly loss also included the impact of almost $1.8 billion in impairment charges.

In a bid to shield its balance sheet, Suncor said it will slash its quarterly dividend approximately 55 per cent to $0.21 per share from $0.465. It is also suspending share buybacks and reduced this year's capital spending budget range by another $400 million.

Suncor may have cut its dividend too soon: Money manager

Rafi Tahmazian, senior portfolio manager at Canoe Financial reacts to news that Suncor slashed its dividend by 55 per cent after the first quarter.

Suncor said that as of March 31, it had $8.1 billion in liquidity. Since the quarter wrapped, it launched a $1.25-billion debt financing and also secured another $300 million in credit facilities.

“During these unprecedented conditions, our strategy stands out as a competitive differentiator," CEO Mark Little said in the release Tuesday. "Our physically integrated model, paired with our disciplined financial management and capital allocation practices, provide resiliency through these rapidly changing market conditions.”

On an operating basis, Suncor lost $309 million, or $0.20 per share, in the first quarter compared to an operating profit of $1.2 billion, or $0.77 per share, a year earlier.

The company's total upstream production fell to 739,800 barrels of oil equivalent per day from 764,300 a year earlier.