Phillips 66 plans new, $2B share buyback program

HOUSTON (AP) -- Oil refiner Phillips 66 said Friday that its board of directors has approved a new $2 billion share repurchase program, sending its shares to an all-time high.

The Houston company said its directors have authorized $5 billion in share repurchases since last year's third quarter, and company had bought back $2 billion of shares as of last October.

The company said it will buy back shares depending on market factors and other variables.

Companies often say share repurchases help shareholders, because theoretically they cut down on the total number of shares and thus boost earnings per share. But critics say that repurchases don't usually lower the number of shares outstanding because companies can turn around and issue more shares to pay employees. They also crimp companies from spending on new infrastructure or hiring.

Phillips 66 shares climbed 2.8 percent, or $1.95, to $71.68 in afternoon trading, while the Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 1 percent.

Earlier in the session, the stock reached an all-time high price of $72.50, according to the data firm FactSet. Phillips 66 shares had climbed 31 percent so far this year as of Thursday.