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Board of directors of Noble Energy Inc. (NBL - Analyst Report) announced a 12% hike in its quarterly dividend to 28 cents per share from the previous 25 cents. The dividend will be paid to shareholders of record on May 6, 2013. The board also approved a two-for-one stock split for the purpose of luring new investors to the stock.

The stock trading at the split-adjusted price will be initiated from May 29, 2013. The company will allocate the additional stakes on May 28, 2013 to shareholders of record at the close of business on May 14, 2013.  

Noble Energy is known for providing substantial dividend raise to investors and has consistently increased it for the last three years. In Oct 2012, the company increased dividend by 13.6%.

Both these strategic moves will strengthen existing investor confidence. The stock split will benefit stockholders as it will provide an opportunity to sell their holdings to a wider base of investors.

The company’s solid financial position and positive results from its African and Eastern Mediterranean operations prompted the company to increase its dividend level. Noble Energy’s cash flow at the end of 2012 was $2,933.0 million, up 35.2% from 2011. It was also successful in reducing its debt level by 8.3% in 2012 from that of 2011.

Noble Energy’s Tamar natural gas field has come online which will offer handsome returns to the company. Further, its domestic prospects like the liquefied natural gas facility in Colorado and high quality exploration ventures in Nevada also looks promising. Currently it carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

Other oil and gas stocks that warrant a look are Quicksilver Resources Inc. (KWK - Analyst Report), EPL Oil & Gas Inc. and Range Resource Corporation (RRC - Analyst Report). All the above presently hold a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

Based in Houston TX, Noble Energy, an independent energy company, engages in the acquisition, exploration, development, production, and marketing of crude oil, natural gas, and natural gas liquids in the United States and worldwide.

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