You couldn't go wrong with ExxonMobil ( XOM) either, and that's before the Middle East political turmoil of the past few weeks. Morningstar analysts say it's a virtual lock. "With a majority of the world's remaining resources in government hands, opportunities for the company to grow its large production base are limited. However, we believe ExxonMobil's experience and expertise, particularly with large projects, should allow it to successfully compete for resources." ExxonMobil shares are up 17% this year and 33% in the past 12 months. Standard & Poor's gives ExxonMobil its highest rating, a five-star, strong buy recommendation. It gives its shares a $95 price target. The research firm says the company, which has a record of "superior earnings and dividend growth and stability" will benefit "from 'big-pocket' upstream growth opportunities in the deepwater, liquefied natural gas, onshore unconventional, and ventures with state-owned companies."
In the industrials sector, there's one pick that is a good consideration, old reliable General Electric ( GE). It's had its share of challenges, but analysts think mighty GE is on the comeback trail. General Electric's shares are up 14% this year and 31% over the past year, but that comes after a three-year average annual loss of 12%. It's hard to define the elephant but this huge conglomerate is making tracks as the economy recovers. It sells products ranging from jet engines and gas turbines to consumer appliances, railroad locomotives and medical equipment. General Electric also owns NBC Universal and is a leading provider of consumer and commercial financing. Morningstar analyst Daniel Holland writes that "after shedding underperforming businesses during the past few years, the firm has energy infrastructure square in its sights. We believe GE will emerge as a leader in the power infrastructure market, which will be the backbone for the firm's growth." "The portfolio of businesses continues to be correlated with industrialization and the needs of growing economies," writes the Morningstar analyst. Standard & Poor's gives it a four-star buy rating, just below its highest five-star rating. It gives it a 12-month price target of $24 versus its recent price of $21.33. For fiscal 2011, analysts estimate GE will earn $1.32 per share, S&P says. For fiscal 2012, analysts estimate GE's earnings per share will grow by 23% to $1.62 per share. S&P's review of analysts ratings find three "buys," nine "buy/holds" and six "holds."