ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP) has been around since 1875, doing pretty much what it does today — it looks for oil (and natural gas, nowadays), produces it, then ships it to refiners and then sells the component parts.
COP isn’t a completely integrated big oil like Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) or BP PLC (NYSE:BP) but it has built a solid niche and knows how to get through good and bad times.
Oil prices now sit in the low $50’s, and nowadays, that’s a decent price — it’s cheap enough for consumers in the U.S. but is still profitable for producers.
This wasn’t the case a few years back, when Saudi Arabia drove the price of oil down dramatically to run U.S. oil firms out of business.
Since then, exploration and production (E&P) firms have automated their operations and now have better margins, which gives them better downside protection.
At this point, U.S. production is humming along and as the economy continues to recover, demand will also continue to rise. Right now it’s in a sweet spot where margins are solid for E&P firms and prices are helping consumers and businesses.
But beyond the U.S. demand, the rest of the world is also looking for more energy, and they pay handsomely for oil and natural gas. And this is where COP’s global strategy gives it an opportunity beyond the domestic market. It can supply into overseas markets from overseas facilities. This makes delivery easier and helps keep margins strong by shortening the supply chain.
The other strength COP brings to the table is its healthy mix of oil and natural gas operations. In 2017, oil made up about 50% of the company’s production. Natural gas made up 38%. Natural gas liquids (NGLs) made up about 7% and bitumen (basically asphalt, which is derived from petroleum products) made up 5%.
Having this balance means COP isn’t too heavily weighted into either energy market. That’s a good thing when we’re in the kind of economy we’re in right now.
Companies are continuing to transition to natural gas from coal because it’s a more efficient fuel, which means it’s cheaper to burn. And it’s cleaner, which means it’s easier to keep the equipment that burns it operational.
Also, natural gas prices in Asia and Europe are several times higher than they are in the U.S., so the margins are incredible. Because COP stock has global distribution channels it can take advantage of these pricing disparities much better than US-focused companies.
And as an established energy company with a $78 billion market cap, it is shareholder friendly. It delivers a 1.8% dividend and the stock is up more than 8% in 2019.
While that kind of growth won’t be typical, it will be a solid grower with a solid dividend as long you need gas in your tank or flames on your stove.
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Source: Investor Place