These 10 S&P 500 Companies Are the Most Shareholder Friendly - TheStreet

S&P 500 companies are increasingly deploying cash to shareholders via stock repurchases and dividend payouts, and with more than $1 trillion in cash on their balance sheets as of June, that trend is likely to continue, according to a report out by S&P Capital IQ.

Last year S&P 500 companies spent a combined $934 billion on stock buybacks and dividends, compared to $507 billion in 2005, S&P Capital IQ noted in a report last week. While the financial crisis put a damper on returning capital to shareholders, the amount allocated to repurchases and dividends rose in each of the past five years.

"We think companies could be more willing to part with available cash on a combination of buybacks and dividends, instead of or in addition to investment intended to grow businesses long term," according to S&P Capital IQ.

The amount of stock buybacks tend to correlate with how the economy and stock market are doing, while dividends are more resistant to economic cycles.

Dividend payouts rose every year in the past 10 years, except for 2009 (reflecting the Great Recession). On the other hand, stock repurchases were less consistent. Buybacks declined by a whopping 40% in 2008 and 61% in 2009, reflecting the economy, but rose 119% in 2010, 27% in 2013 and 16% in 2014, the report said.

"We believe that shareholders and management consider dividends as more consistent and buybacks as much more variable, and consequently, when the economy weakens, buyback activity is often initially affected," the report said.

Companies that allocate cash to buybacks or dividends vary by sector. In 2014, the financial services sector paid $61 billion -- the most of any sector -- to shareholders, through dividends, even though it was only 16.6% of capital, S&P Capital IQ said. The technology sector returned $54 billion, or 14.7% of capital, and consumer staples returned $49 billion, or 13.2% of capital, via dividends.

Technology led the sectors in returning cash via buybacks with $156 billion, or 27% of capital, in repurchases last year, followed by the consumer discretionary sector, with 14.7% of capital and the industrials sector, with 12.5% of capital via buybacks.

So which companies have led the way with the most returned capital to shareholders over the past 10 years? Here's the list, in order of least to most, along with ratings from TheStreet Ratings for additional perspective.

TheStreet Ratings uses a quantitative approach to rating over 4,300 stocks to predict return potential for the next year. The model is both objective, using elements such as volatility of past operating revenues, financial strength, and company cash flows, and subjective, including expected equity market returns, future interest rates, implied industry outlook and forecasted company earnings.

Buying an S&P 500 stock that TheStreet Ratings rated a buy yielded a 16.56% return in 2014, beating the S&P 500 Total Return Index by 304 basis points. Buying a Russell 2000 stock that TheStreet Ratings rated a buy yielded a 9.5% return in 2014, beating the Russell 2000 index, including dividends reinvested, by 460 basis points last year.

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JNJ

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10. Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) - Get Report
Industry: Health Care/Pharmaceuticals
Year-to-date return: -3.9%

Total Returned Capital 2005-2014: $108.4 billion
Buybacks 2005-2014: $51.7 billion
Dividends 2005-2014: $56.7 billion

TheStreet Said: TheStreet Ratings team rates JOHNSON & JOHNSON as a Buy with a ratings score of B. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

We rate JOHNSON & JOHNSON (JNJ) a BUY. This is driven by several positive factors, which we believe should have a greater impact than any weaknesses, and should give investors a better performance opportunity than most stocks we cover. Among the primary strengths of the company is its expanding profit margins over time. We feel its strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had lackluster performance in the stock itself.

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • JOHNSON & JOHNSON's earnings per share declined by 27.7% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. This company has reported somewhat volatile earnings recently. But, we feel it is poised for EPS growth in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, JOHNSON & JOHNSON increased its bottom line by earning $5.70 versus $4.82 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($6.18 versus $5.70).
  • The gross profit margin for JOHNSON & JOHNSON is rather high; currently it is at 69.45%. Regardless of JNJ's high profit margin, it has managed to decrease from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, JNJ's net profit margin of 19.63% compares favorably to the industry average.
  • JNJ, with its decline in revenue, slightly underperformed the industry average of 6.2%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly dropped by 7.4%. Weakness in the company's revenue seems to have hurt the bottom line, decreasing earnings per share.
  • In its most recent trading session, JNJ has closed at a price level that was not very different from its closing price of one year earlier. This is probably due to its weak earnings growth as well as other mixed factors. Looking ahead, although the push and pull of the overall market trend could certainly make a critical difference, we do not see any strong reason stemming from the company's fundamentals that would cause a continuation of last year's decline. In fact, the stock is now selling for less than others in its industry in relation to its current earnings.
  • The change in net income from the same quarter one year ago has exceeded that of the Pharmaceuticals industry average, but is less than that of the S&P 500. The net income has significantly decreased by 29.3% when compared to the same quarter one year ago, falling from $4,749.00 million to $3,358.00 million.
  • You can view the full analysis from the report here: JNJ

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9. JPMorgan Chase (JPM) - Get Report
Industry: Financial Services/Diversified Banks
Year-to-date return: 4.7%

Total Returned Capital 2005-2014: $113.8 billion
Buybacks 2005-2014: $66.1 billion
Dividends 2005-2014: $47.7 billion

TheStreet Said: TheStreet Ratings team rates JPMORGAN CHASE & CO as a Buy with a ratings score of A-. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

We rate JPMORGAN CHASE & CO (JPM) a BUY. This is based on the convergence of positive investment measures, which should help this stock outperform the majority of stocks that we rate. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its solid stock price performance, growth in earnings per share, increase in net income, expanding profit margins and attractive valuation levels. Although the company may harbor some minor weaknesses, we feel they are unlikely to have a significant impact on results.

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • The stock has risen over the past year as investors have generally rewarded the company for its earnings growth and other positive factors like the ones we have cited in this report. Turning our attention to the future direction of the stock, it goes without saying that even the best stocks can fall in an overall down market. However, in any other environment, this stock still has good upside potential despite the fact that it has already risen in the past year.
  • JPMORGAN CHASE & CO has improved earnings per share by 23.5% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. The company has demonstrated a pattern of positive earnings per share growth over the past two years. We feel that this trend should continue. During the past fiscal year, JPMORGAN CHASE & CO increased its bottom line by earning $5.29 versus $4.32 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($5.98 versus $5.29).
  • The company, on the basis of net income growth from the same quarter one year ago, has significantly outperformed against the S&P 500 and exceeded that of the Commercial Banks industry average. The net income increased by 22.1% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, going from $5,572.00 million to $6,804.00 million.
  • The gross profit margin for JPMORGAN CHASE & CO is currently very high, coming in at 89.85%. Regardless of JPM's high profit margin, it has managed to decrease from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, JPM's net profit margin of 27.66% compares favorably to the industry average.
  • You can view the full analysis from the report here: JPM
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PFE

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8. Pfizer  (PFE) - Get Report
Industry: Health Care/Pharmaceuticals
Year-to-date return: 13.8%

Total Returned Capital 2005-2014: $127.4 billion
Buybacks 2005-2014: $60.8 billion
Dividends 2005-2014: $66.6 billion

TheStreet Said: TheStreet Ratings team rates PFIZER INC as a Buy with a ratings score of B. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

We rate PFIZER INC (PFE) a BUY. This is driven by a few notable strengths, which we believe should have a greater impact than any weaknesses, and should give investors a better performance opportunity than most stocks we cover. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its reasonable valuation levels, good cash flow from operations, solid stock price performance, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures and expanding profit margins. We feel its strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had somewhat disappointing return on equity.

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • Net operating cash flow has remained constant at $4,090.00 million with no significant change when compared to the same quarter last year. Along with maintaining stable cash flow from operations, the firm exceeded the industry average cash flow growth rate of -45.83%.
  • Looking at where the stock is today compared to one year ago, we find that it is not only higher, but it has also clearly outperformed the rise in the S&P 500 over the same period, despite the company's weak earnings results. Turning our attention to the future direction of the stock, it goes without saying that even the best stocks can fall in an overall down market. However, in any other environment, this stock still has good upside potential despite the fact that it has already risen in the past year.
  • Despite currently having a low debt-to-equity ratio of 0.53, it is higher than that of the industry average, inferring that management of debt levels may need to be evaluated further. Despite the fact that PFE's debt-to-equity ratio is mixed in its results, the company's quick ratio of 1.62 is high and demonstrates strong liquidity.
  • The gross profit margin for PFIZER INC is currently very high, coming in at 84.72%. Regardless of PFE's high profit margin, it has managed to decrease from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, PFE's net profit margin of 22.16% compares favorably to the industry average.
  • You can view the full analysis from the report here: PFE
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PG

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7. Procter & Gamble (PG) - Get Report
Industry: Consumer Non-Discretionary/Household Products
Year-to-date return: -16%

Total Returned Capital 2005-2014: $129 billion
Buybacks 2005-2014: $75.5 billion
Dividends 2005-2014: $53.4 billion

TheStreet Said: TheStreet Ratings team rates PROCTER & GAMBLE CO as a Hold with a ratings score of C+. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

We rate PROCTER & GAMBLE CO (PG) a HOLD. The primary factors that have impacted our rating are mixed - some indicating strength, some showing weaknesses, with little evidence to justify the expectation of either a positive or negative performance for this stock relative to most other stocks. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its increase in net income, expanding profit margins and largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including a generally disappointing performance in the stock itself, disappointing return on equity and weak operating cash flow.

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • The company, on the basis of net income growth from the same quarter one year ago, has significantly outperformed against the S&P 500 and exceeded that of the Household Products industry average. The net income increased by 30.7% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from $1,990.00 million to $2,601.00 million.
  • The gross profit margin for PROCTER & GAMBLE CO is rather high; currently it is at 55.64%. It has increased from the same quarter the previous year. Along with this, the net profit margin of 15.73% is above that of the industry average.
  • The current debt-to-equity ratio, 0.49, is low and is below the industry average, implying that there has been successful management of debt levels. Despite the fact that PG's debt-to-equity ratio is low, the quick ratio, which is currently 0.55, displays a potential problem in covering short-term cash needs.
  • The company's current return on equity has slightly decreased from the same quarter one year prior. This implies a minor weakness in the organization. Compared to other companies in the Household Products industry and the overall market on the basis of return on equity, PROCTER & GAMBLE CO has underperformed in comparison with the industry average, but has exceeded that of the S&P 500.
  • Net operating cash flow has declined marginally to $3,538.00 million or 2.61% when compared to the same quarter last year. Despite a decrease in cash flow of 2.61%, PROCTER & GAMBLE CO is in line with the industry average cash flow growth rate of -9.82%.
  • You can view the full analysis from the report here: PG
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BAC

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6. Bank of America  (BAC) - Get Report
Industry: Financial Services/Diversified Banks
Year-to-date return: -3.4%

Total Returned Capital 2005-2014: $134.5 billion
Buybacks 2005-2014: $80.5 billion
Dividends 2005-2014: $54 billion

TheStreet Said: TheStreet Ratings team rates BANK OF AMERICA CORP as a Buy with a ratings score of B+. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

We rate BANK OF AMERICA CORP (BAC) a BUY. This is driven by multiple strengths, which we believe should have a greater impact than any weaknesses, and should give investors a better performance opportunity than most stocks we cover. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its compelling growth in net income, attractive valuation levels, impressive record of earnings per share growth, expanding profit margins and notable return on equity. We feel its strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had lackluster performance in the stock itself.

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has significantly exceeded that of the S&P 500 and the Commercial Banks industry. The net income increased by 2043.1% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from -$232.00 million to $4,508.00 million.
  • BANK OF AMERICA CORP reported significant earnings per share improvement in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. This company has reported somewhat volatile earnings recently. But, we feel it is poised for EPS growth in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, BANK OF AMERICA CORP reported lower earnings of $0.35 versus $0.91 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($1.43 versus $0.35).
  • Regardless of the drop in revenue, the company managed to outperform against the industry average of 3.6%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly dropped by 2.8%. The declining revenue has not hurt the company's bottom line, with increasing earnings per share.
  • The gross profit margin for BANK OF AMERICA CORP is currently very high, coming in at 85.75%. Regardless of BAC's high profit margin, it has managed to decrease from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, the net profit margin of 19.44% trails the industry average.
  • You can view the full analysis from the report here: BAC
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T

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5. AT&T (T) - Get Report
Industry: Telecom/Integrated Telecommunication Services
Year-to-date return: -0.5%

Total Returned Capital 2005-2014: $135.3 billion
Buybacks 2005-2014: $48.3 billion
Dividends 2005-2014: $86.9 billion

TheStreet Said: TheStreet Ratings team rates AT&T INC as a Buy with a ratings score of B-. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

We rate AT&T INC (T) a BUY. This is driven by some important positives, which we believe should have a greater impact than any weaknesses, and should give investors a better performance opportunity than most stocks we cover. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, good cash flow from operations and expanding profit margins. We feel its strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had lackluster performance in the stock itself.

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • The revenue growth came in higher than the industry average of 0.3%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 18.6%. This growth in revenue does not appear to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, displayed by a decline in earnings per share.
  • Net operating cash flow has increased to $10,797.00 million or 23.76% when compared to the same quarter last year. The firm also exceeded the industry average cash flow growth rate of 4.52%.
  • The gross profit margin for AT&T INC is rather high; currently it is at 54.48%. Regardless of T's high profit margin, it has managed to decrease from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, the net profit margin of 7.65% trails the industry average.
  • AT&T INC's earnings per share declined by 13.8% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. The company has suffered a declining pattern of earnings per share over the past two years. However, we anticipate this trend to reverse over the coming year. During the past fiscal year, AT&T INC reported lower earnings of $1.19 versus $3.41 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($2.65 versus $1.19).
  • The change in net income from the same quarter one year ago has exceeded that of the S&P 500 and the Diversified Telecommunication Services industry average. The net income has decreased by 0.3% when compared to the same quarter one year ago, dropping from $3,002.00 million to $2,994.00 million.
  • You can view the full analysis from the report here: T
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GE

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4. General Electric (GE) - Get Report
Industry: Industrials/Industrial Conglomerates
Year-to-date return: 16.3%

Total Returned Capital 2005-2014: $146.3 billion
Buybacks 2005-2014: $60.9 billion
Dividends 2005-2014: $85.4 billion

TheStreet Said: TheStreet Ratings team rates GENERAL ELECTRIC CO as a Buy with a ratings score of B. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

We rate GENERAL ELECTRIC CO (GE) a BUY. This is driven by several positive factors, which we believe should have a greater impact than any weaknesses, and should give investors a better performance opportunity than most stocks we cover. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its expanding profit margins and solid stock price performance. We feel its strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had somewhat weak growth in earnings per share.

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • 36.77% is the gross profit margin for GENERAL ELECTRIC CO which we consider to be strong. Despite the high profit margin, it has decreased significantly from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, the net profit margin of 7.95% trails the industry average.
  • GE, with its decline in revenue, slightly underperformed the industry average of 11.7%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues fell by 12.3%. The declining revenue appears to have seeped down to the company's bottom line, decreasing earnings per share.
  • Looking at where the stock is today compared to one year ago, we find that it is not only higher, but it has also clearly outperformed the rise in the S&P 500 over the same period, despite the company's weak earnings results. The stock's price rise over the last year has driven it to a level which is somewhat expensive compared to the rest of its industry. We feel, however, that other strengths this company displays justify these higher price levels.
  • GENERAL ELECTRIC CO's earnings per share declined by 17.6% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. Earnings per share have declined over the last two years. We anticipate that this should continue in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, GENERAL ELECTRIC CO reported lower earnings of $1.37 versus $1.47 in the prior year. For the next year, the market is expecting a contraction of 4.4% in earnings ($1.31 versus $1.37).
  • The company, on the basis of change in net income from the same quarter one year ago, has underperformed when compared to that of the S&P 500 and the Industrial Conglomerates industry average. The net income has significantly decreased by 29.1% when compared to the same quarter one year ago, falling from $3,536.00 million to $2,506.00 million.
  • You can view the full analysis from the report here: GE
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IBM

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3. International Business Machines (IBM) - Get Report
Industry: Technology/IT Consulting & Other Services
Year-to-date return: -12.2%

Total Returned Capital 2005-2014: $151.9 billion
Buybacks 2005-2014: $122.6 billion
Dividends 2005-2014: $29.3 billion

TheStreet Said: TheStreet Ratings team rates INTL BUSINESS MACHINES CORP as a Buy with a ratings score of B-. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

We rate INTL BUSINESS MACHINES CORP (IBM) a BUY. This is driven by a few notable strengths, which we believe should have a greater impact than any weaknesses, and should give investors a better performance opportunity than most stocks we cover. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its increase in net income, good cash flow from operations and notable return on equity. We feel its strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had lackluster performance in the stock itself.

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has significantly exceeded that of the S&P 500 and the IT Services industry. The net income increased by 16288.9% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from $18.00 million to $2,950.00 million.
  • Net operating cash flow has slightly increased to $4,235.00 million or 8.47% when compared to the same quarter last year. The firm also exceeded the industry average cash flow growth rate of -8.94%.
  • Despite the weak revenue results, IBM has outperformed against the industry average of 26.8%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues fell by 13.9%. Weakness in the company's revenue seems to have hurt the bottom line, decreasing earnings per share.
  • Current return on equity is lower than its ROE from the same quarter one year prior. This is a clear sign of weakness within the company. Compared to other companies in the IT Services industry and the overall market, INTL BUSINESS MACHINES CORP's return on equity significantly exceeds that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
  • INTL BUSINESS MACHINES CORP's earnings per share declined by 12.7% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. This company has reported somewhat volatile earnings recently. We feel it is likely to report a decline in earnings in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, INTL BUSINESS MACHINES CORP increased its bottom line by earning $15.66 versus $15.37 in the prior year. For the next year, the market is expecting a contraction of 4.6% in earnings ($14.94 versus $15.66).
  • You can view the full analysis from the report here: IBM
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MSFT

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2. Microsoft  (MSFT) - Get Report
Industry: Technology/Systems Software
Year-to-date return: 16.2%

Total Returned Capital 2005-2014: $175.9 billion
Buybacks 2005-2014: $121 billion
Dividends 2005-2014: $54.9 billion

TheStreet Said: TheStreet Ratings team rates MICROSOFT CORP as a Buy with a ratings score of A. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

We rate MICROSOFT CORP (MSFT) a BUY. This is based on the convergence of positive investment measures, which should help this stock outperform the majority of stocks that we rate. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its solid stock price performance, increase in net income, reasonable valuation levels, expanding profit margins and good cash flow from operations. Although no company is perfect, currently we do not see any significant weaknesses which are likely to detract from the generally positive outlook.

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • The stock has risen over the past year as investors have generally rewarded the company for its earnings growth and other positive factors like the ones we have cited in this report. Turning our attention to the future direction of the stock, it goes without saying that even the best stocks can fall in an overall down market. However, in any other environment, this stock still has good upside potential despite the fact that it has already risen in the past year.
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has exceeded that of the S&P 500 and the Software industry average. The net income increased by 1.8% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, going from $4,540.00 million to $4,620.00 million.
  • The gross profit margin for MICROSOFT CORP is currently very high, coming in at 71.80%. It has increased from the same quarter the previous year. Along with this, the net profit margin of 22.67% is above that of the industry average.
  • Net operating cash flow has slightly increased to $8,594.00 million or 2.87% when compared to the same quarter last year. The firm also exceeded the industry average cash flow growth rate of -12.64%.
  • You can view the full analysis from the report here: MSFT
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XOM

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1. Exxon Mobil  (XOM) - Get Report
Industry: Energy/Integrated Oil & Gas
Year-to-date return: -11%

Total Returned Capital 2005-2014: $309 billion
Buybacks 2005-2014: $220.4 billion
Dividends 2005-2014: $88.6 billion

TheStreet Said: TheStreet Ratings team rates EXXON MOBIL CORP as a Hold with a ratings score of C. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

We rate EXXON MOBIL CORP (XOM) a HOLD. The primary factors that have impacted our rating are mixed - some indicating strength, some showing weaknesses, with little evidence to justify the expectation of either a positive or negative performance for this stock relative to most other stocks. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its reasonable valuation levels and largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including a generally disappointing performance in the stock itself, deteriorating net income and disappointing return on equity.

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • XOM's debt-to-equity ratio is very low at 0.20 and is currently below that of the industry average, implying that there has been very successful management of debt levels. Despite the fact that XOM's debt-to-equity ratio is low, the quick ratio, which is currently 0.52, displays a potential problem in covering short-term cash needs.
  • Regardless of the drop in revenue, the company managed to outperform against the industry average of 34.1%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues fell by 33.2%. Weakness in the company's revenue seems to have hurt the bottom line, decreasing earnings per share.
  • The change in net income from the same quarter one year ago has exceeded that of the Oil, Gas & Consumable Fuels industry average, but is less than that of the S&P 500. The net income has significantly decreased by 52.3% when compared to the same quarter one year ago, falling from $8,780.00 million to $4,190.00 million.
  • The share price of EXXON MOBIL CORP has not done very well: it is down 11.00% and has underperformed the S&P 500, in part reflecting the company's sharply declining earnings per share when compared to the year-earlier quarter. The fact that the stock is now selling for less than others in its industry in relation to its current earnings is not reason enough to justify a buy rating at this time.
  • You can view the full analysis from the report here: XOM