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Is Chevron Planning a To Buy a Rival Energy Company?

Stocks in this article: CVX XOM CHK HES

It could continue to grow organically -- yet, according to reports such as the Journal article there are some tempting takeover targets that are reasonably priced considering their holdings and book value.

Two that have been cited are Chesapeake Energy (CHK) and Hess (HES), both of which have given no hints that they're up for sale.

As of Monday, CHK had a market cap of a mere $12.57 billion, which makes it affordable for Chevron. Yet, CVX better not dilly-dally if it's interested in CHK. I also noticed Monday that when the overall market volume was anemic, CHK had higher-than-normal volume. Then, 15 minutes after the regular trading session ended, CHK shares spiked 4% to $20.34.

Is an important announcement pending? Stay tuned.

Hess' market cap is a heftier $18 billion, but the price-to-book ratio is at 0.90, and the closing price-per-share on Monday was $53.13 while book-value-per-share is $58.75 as of the end of June 2012.

Take a look at this chart that compares CHK and HES based on book value.

CHK Book Value per Share Chart CHK Book Value per Share data by YCharts

At the end of its last quarter Chesapeake Energy had a similar price-to-book ratio (0.91) and the shares have been trading around 10% below book-value-per-share price of $22.37.

Chevron could thrill its investors by using all that extra cash on hand to buy back more shares or increase the dividend. CVX spent $2.5 billion buying its stock in the first half of 2012 and already increased its dividend 11% so far in 2012. That doesn't mean it can't increase both the share buyback and dividend when it next announces earnings sometime in October.

With its comfortable cash cushion, CVX can move forward with its internal growth plans without increasing its debt load and taking on more risk. That's a prudent, fiscally conservative way to run a global enterprise, and that's the tradition that has made Chevron shareholders a lot of money over the past few years.

I'll end this article by showing you a four-year chart on CVX, illustrating both its price and earnings-per-share history. It's nothing short of impressive.

CVX Chart CVX data by YCharts

As of the time of publication the author has no positions in companies mentioned.

This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real money portfolio for his charitable trust- enjoy advance notice of every trade, full access to the portfolio, and deep coverage of the latest economic events and market movements.

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