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TheStreet Open House

Exxon or Chevron? Both Seem Reasonable

Stocks in this article: XOM CVX WAG CVS NKE

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Previously, I have expanded upon the musings of Jim Cramer's CNBC show "Mad Money." Specifically, I shared my views on this Web site about Walgreen (WAG) and CVS (CVS ) and Nike (NKE). Both times effectively mirroring Cramer's sentiment, but perhaps I expanded upon his one or two liners a bit.

Today I would like to investigate a recent comment related to oil giants Exxon Mobil (XOM - Get Report) and Chevron (CVX - Get Report). The question was about XOM and Cramer's response was as follows: "I see no reason to be in Exxon. I'd rather be in Chevron."

Once again, I basically agree with his statement. However, indicating that there's "no reason to be in Exxon" seems a touch oversimplified. What if one had a low cost basis in XOM and the resulting taxes and transaction fees offset the implied advantage of CVX? Or perhaps you believe that the Chevron Ecuador lawsuit will turn out worse than anticipated.

All I'm saying is that one or two line statements likely need both clarity and context. Instead, I believe Cramer actually meant something along the lines of: "Both XOM and CVX are great companies; yet, I believe that CVX presently provides a better investment opportunity." Perhaps I'm mistaken, but in any event it's always useful to dig into the underlying reasoning behind the suggestions.

Below I have included the fundamental analyzer software tool of F.A.S.T. Graphs to demonstrate Exxon Mobil's operating results for the last 15 years. Here we see that -- despite a noticeable dip in earnings during the last recession -- Exxon has still been able to maintain a robust pace of earnings (orange line) at just over 12% a year. In addition, we can see that the dividend (pink line) has been both increasing and sustainable.

In turn, an investor would expect rather healthy return results as well. This is precisely what we see -- XOM was able to provide total return results of about 7.6% a year, or roughly double the return of the S&P 500 during the same period. Additionally, an investor would have received a little over half of the initial capital back in the form of dividend payments.

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