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Continental Resources to launch $1B share buyback, pay quarterly dividend

Continental Resources Inc. said it will launch an initial share repurchase program of up to $1 billion and start paying a quarterly dividend of 5 cents per share.

The shale driller's board approved the $1 billion share buyback program, which will run from the second quarter through 2020, according to a June 3 news release. A substantial portion of the initial amount is expected to be executed by the end of the year, the company said.

Continental's board also authorized the quarterly dividend of 5 cents per share, which amounts to 20 cents per share, or about $75 million, on an annualized basis. The dividend will be paid Nov. 21 to shareholders of record as of Nov. 7.

In addition, Continental said it now anticipates generating about $5 billion of free cash flow at $60 West Texas Intermediate benchmark price. This represents an increase of roughly $1 billion compared to the previous estimate, driven mainly by an improvement in capital efficiencies and crude oil differentials.

The company hopes to lower net debt to about $5 billion by the end of the year and to $4.2 billion or below in the long term.

Continental explores for, develops and produces crude oil and natural gas in the Bakken, SCOOP and STACK plays, among other regions.