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Exxon Mobil Is a Well-Oiled Machine

Thomas Scarlett

Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM) has had an up-and-down year, just like the price of oil itself. After a steep slide in February, the Exxon’s stock price has been on an upswing in recent months. Has it hit another peak, or will it continue to rise?

The company, of course, has been one of the dominant players in the oil business for many decades. As long as oil remains the lifeblood of the world economy, Exxon Mobil will remain one of the world’s most formidable corporations.

The biggest news about Exxon in recent weeks was the announcement that the company will be getting more involved in energy trading, in addition to its traditional activities in exploration and spot market sales.

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Exxon had always limited its trading activity out of concern that its enormous presence in the industry could lead to allegations of market manipulation. But the current management team believes that increased energy trading will allow the company to get the best prices for its products and increase profits without increasing its fixed costs.

But the expanded trading division will not stop Exxon from pushing forward in its existing operations. Managers are hoping to add 1 million barrels per day of output over the next few years, thanks to new oilfields and improved efficiencies at existing refineries.

At the same time, Exxon is looking to limit its exposure to increased environmental regulation. While the Trump administration might seem like an unlikely source of new pollution rules, other countries have been increasing their scrutiny of the oil business, as have individual U.S. states such as California.

Exxon just teamed up with longtime rival Chevron (NYSE:CVX) to combine efforts to find ways of reducing methane emissions. This comes right after a new study found that U.S. oil and gas companies are releasing a lot more methane into the atmosphere than previously believed. Methane is a “greenhouse gas” that traps even more heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide does.

Bottom Line on Exxon Mobil Stock

While Exxon Mobil’s stock price has been rising recently, it remains about 10% below its 52-week high. The price-earnings ratio of around 17 seems quite reasonable for a company with universal brand identification and a powerful worldwide production and distribution system.

While the oil business will always be subject to the whims of OPEC and the unpredictable developments of world politics, Exxon Mobil is about as solid a stock as you will find, for both the medium and the long term.

The author does not own any of the stocks mentioned in this article.

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