Is Exxon Mobil Corporation (XOM) a Buy?

We live in a world that has a seemingly unquenchable thirst for energy. Particularly in the emerging markets, it appears as if there’s no end to the amount of energy we consume. As a result, it shouldn’t be surprising the number of extremely profitable integrated oil majors that have pumped out steadily rising profits and dividends for their shareholders for many years.

There’s perhaps no better example of such a company than Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM), the world’s most valuable company at its recent $409 billion market capitalization. With a history that places it among corporate America’s elite businesses, the question for investors now is whether Exxon Mobil can keep its shareholder returns gushing higher in the years ahead.

Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM

Truly a legendary company

From its humble beginnings as Standard Oil, Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) has evolved over the last 125 years to become a global juggernaut.

Year in and year out, Exxon provides its investors with steady operating results and quarterly dividend payments.

Even better, over the past few decades, Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) has committed itself to raising its shareholder payout on an annual basis. To that end, Exxon Mobil increased its dividend by 21% in 2012 and then again by 11% early this year.

This year’s dividend bump represented the 31st consecutive annual dividend increase from Exxon Mobil. According to the company, its dividend has grown by 6% compounded annually over the past 30 years.

Of course, Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) isn’t alone when it comes to energy giants with strong businesses. Competitors ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP) and Chevron Corporation (NYSE:CVX) share the playing field with Exxon and treat their shareholders equally well.

ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP) yields in excess of 4% at recent prices and reported strong first-quarter operating results. The company realized 3% growth in adjusted earnings per share through the first three months of the year. Moreover, the company directs investors to the progress being made on several of its growth priorities, including two significant oil discoveries in the Gulf of Mexico.

For its part, Chevron Corporation (NYSE:CVX) generated more than $26 billion in profits in fiscal 2012. Chevron’s immense proved reserves place the company in a great position going forward. Chevron added approximately 1.07 billion barrels of net oil-equivalent proved reserves in 2012, which equate to 112% of net oil-equivalent production for the year.

Chevron Corporation (NYSE:CVX)’s dividend policy is noteworthy in its own right. Earlier this year, the company gave its investors an 11% dividend boost, marking the 26th year in a row of higher dividend payments.