Delivering returns to our long-term shareholders is a top priority. We continually evaluate our investment options to ensure we allocate our capital in a way that we believe will:
- create the greatest long-term value for our shareholders
- allow us to maintain our investment grade rating
- ensure we execute on our dividend policy
We start by determining how much cash we have to invest (investable capital), which is based on our expected cash flow from operations minus expenses we consider to be a higher priority, such as dividends and financing costs, and could include others. This investable capital can be reinvested in the company or returned to shareholders.
Before investable capital is reinvested in sustaining, capacity replacement or growth, each investment must demonstrate that it can meet the required risk-adjusted return criteria, and we must identify at the corporate level the expected impact on cash flow, earnings and the balance sheet. All project risks must be identified, including the risks of not investing. Allocation of capital only occurs once an investment has cleared these hurdles.
This may result in some opportunities being held back in favour of higher return investments, and should allow us to generate the best return on investment decisions when we are faced with multiple prospects, while also controlling our costs. If there are not enough good growth prospects internally or externally, this may also result in residual investable capital, which we would then consider returning directly to shareholders.
If we determine the best use of cash is to return it to shareholders, we can do that through a share repurchase or dividend—either a one-time special dividend or a dividend growth policy. When deciding between these options, we consider a number of factors, including generation of excess cash, our growth prospects, growth prospects for the industry, and the nature of the excess cash.
Share buyback: If we were generating excess cash while there were little or no growth prospects for the Company or the industry, then a share buyback might make sense. However, our current view is that the long-term fundamentals for Cameco and the industry remain strong.
Dividend: We view our dividend as a priority. Therefore, any change to our dividend policy must be carefully considered with a view to long-term sustainability. Currently, the conditions in the uranium market do not provide us with the level of certainty we require to implement changes in our dividend policy.