The oil giant is one of the world’s top dividend payers.

ExxonMobil (XOM -0.83%) is a leader in paying dividends. The oil giant paid a whopping $14.9 billion in dividends in 2023. That was the third-highest total in the world. It will likely pay even more in dividends in 2024.

Drilling down into Exxon’s massive dividend

On the one hand, ExxonMobil’s total dividend outlay in 2023 was roughly flat with 2022’s level. However, the payout increased on a per-share basis. Exxon raised its dividend per share by 3.4% in late 2022 and delivered a 4.4% dividend increase in late 2023. That marked its 41st consecutive year of increasing its dividend, tops in the oil patch.

The factor driving the disconnect was Exxon’s meaningful share repurchase program. The oil giant bought back $17.4 billion in shares in 2023. That helped reduce its outstanding shares by 3.6% even though it issued $4.9 billion in shares to acquire Denbury Resources.

Exxon is on track to pay $15.2 billion in dividends in 2024 based on its current payout rate and outstanding shares at the end of 2023. However, the oil company’s outstanding shares will likely increase this year. The catalyst is its pending $59.5 billion all-stock acquisition of Pioneer Natural Resources. Existing Pioneer shareholders will receive 2.3234 Exxon shares for each share they hold. The oil giant will need to pay its current dividend rate across those new shares when the deal closes, which it expects will occur in the first half of this year. While the company plans to offset some of that dilution by ramping up its share repurchases to a $20 billion annual pace this year, it will likely pay more than $15 billion in dividends in 2024.

Does Exxon’s big dividend make it a buy?

Exxon is one of the more attractive oil stocks because it pays a high-yielding dividend (currently 3.2%) that it routinely increases on a per-share basis. That steady growth should continue, fueled by its high-return capital projects and needle-moving acquisitions like Pioneer. So, if you like dividends, Exxon is one of the best.

Matt DiLallo has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Pioneer Natural Resources. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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