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The oil giant last month forecast first-quarter earnings of $9.45 billion, or $2 a share, down from year-earlier earnings of $10.65 billion, or $2.14.
"We think the upside potential in XOM shares is much greater than the downside risk from lower oil and gas prices and refining and marketing margins," Oppenheimer analysts wrote in a May 3 report. "As the largest publicly traded oil and gas company, XOM has long been a core holding for investors seeking a defensive investment with continued dividend growth. Low volatility, financial strength, capital discipline, operating efficiency, and strong management are its most attractive characteristics, in our view. The XTO acquisition made XOM the largest gas producer in the US, but low gas prices depressed the stock. However, the potential for recovering gas prices beginning in 2012 and the application of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing completion methods in XOM's unconventional international portfolio could make this acquisition much better than many have concluded."
Forward Annual Dividend Yield: 2.7%