I would suspect the buyback being profitable to the execs but do not know for sure. What leads me to think about this is the fanatical screaming against a dividend raise by some of the XOM administrative suck holes on this message board. You mention the word "dividend" and they go into an enormous foeces fit. Does a dividend threaten them that much? Why?
I can tell that the last anwser to this question was written by a young man. Those who have held a stock for more years than they have been alive, know the importance of dividends. We partially live from this income stream ... buybacks do nothing for my income. Sure fewer shares are outstanding, but that in no way assures that the share price will rise. If the price of oil falls below $80 per share, XOM share price will tank regardless of a buyback. However, a modest increase in the dividend will easily be sustained. My basis cost on XOM is slightly above the annual dividend. Stock sales result in needless tax payments. Yes dividends doooo matter!!!
I know the importance of dividends, and I wish I were a young guy. Not only do they reward shareholders materially for the risk they took but they also raise the price of the stock. Buybacks are for the big administrators and paper pushers. Today here and tomorrow where? When we soon get our new leadership in XOM,let's get modern with a bigger dividend.