In the last decade, oil and gas companies have been associated with war. Despite the moral questionings that arise in relation to the Iraq and Afghanistan occupations, these are very profitable businesses that deserve investors´attention. Let us look at one company closely associated with the US government, Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM), and two foreign competitors, Petroleo Brasileiro Petrobras SA (ADR) (NYSE:PBR) and PetroChina Company Limited (ADR) (NYSE:PTR).
Although a few might remember the Exxon Valdez incident, the company has come a long way since. In 1999 it merged with Mobil, and today Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) is the world’s largest publicly traded company. The new firm was one of the first to exploit oil in post-Hussein Iraq, and has shown a great deal of concern about keeping shareholders happy. For instance, over the last 10 years, shareholders have seen dividends double ($2.18,) and EPS increase by an average of 13% each year.
Structurally, Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) boasts an increase of 29% on investment projects, financed in great part with the free cash generated. Further, the company has diversified operations and today is present in North America, West Africa, Oceania, Asia, and the Middle East. This global reach allowed the firm to execute a buy back scheme, and raise yield to 2.80%.
On the downside, Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) has shown weakness because production volumes do not grow steadily. The market has become ever more competitive; and countries more zealous about natural resources. Hence, the company has entered politically unstable countries in an attempt to maintain growth, raising considerably associated risks. Iraq and West Africa are the most representative examples.
In all, Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) trades at 11 times EPS consensus estimates, remaining undervalued in relation to its industry´s and the S&P 500´s averages. It is recommended to BUY and enjoy of a sure long-term investment, since oil prices should remain high for a while yet.
Made in China
PetroChina Company Limited (ADR) (NYSE:PTR) is the strongest market contender for Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM). By far the largest oil and gas producer, the firm has been on an acquisition rampage in Australia and Canada. More specifically, the company is looking to expand its gas business; a branch that has been particularly problematic for ExxonMobil due to profitability issues. For the Chinese giant, the gas business has not been easy either, but investment has been done in less troubled areas.
Aided by a monumental Chinese economic growth during the last decade, PetroChina Company Limited (ADR) (NYSE:PTR) has expanded its customer base. The successful base created inland helped making the first international ventures possible. Additionally, in 2009 the Chinese government gave the firm an important loan to complete foreign acquisitions. Here, the point to highlight is that future developments have been settled in politically stable regions in comparison with ExxonMobil.