April 3, 2018 Read More →

Investors Are Walking Away From Expansion-Minded Oil Companies

Wall Street Journal:

Once defined by massive spending and ambitious exploration, some of the world’s biggest energy companies have begun to preach frugality. Investors increasingly favor producers that promise to increase cash payouts, rather than boosting spending to drill for more oil.

The best-performing major U.S. oil producer by share price increase in the past year isn’t Exxon Mobil Corp. or Chevron Corp., but ConocoPhillips , a company that has reduced its size and prioritized share buybacks and dividends over growth in recent years. Its shares have risen 29%, beating the S&P 500 and significantly outperforming the company’s U.S. rivals. Shares of Exxon, which recently laid out plans to increase spending by 25% or more beginning in 2020, have fallen by about 9% in that time.

The success of ConocoPhillips suggests that investors are looking for something different from big oil companies these days. Fading are the days when shareholders bought Exxon or Chevron to get exposure to the big profits that could come with rising oil prices, while being insulated somewhat from falling prices through running refineries and petrochemical plants.

An increasing number of investors want conservative, stable returns—not unlike why some look to the utility industry.

More ($): In the Oil Patch, Bigger Is No Longer Better

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