5 Reasons to Buy Oil Stocks Now: Opinion

The following commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet's guest contributor program, which is separate from the company's news coverage.

NEW YORK ( InvestorPlace) -- After hitting a high of about $115 a barrel just a few months ago, crude oil is trading near one-year lows. Oil is down around $80 a barrel as a weakened global economy has put a damper on demand -- the 2010 low for crude was around $77 a barrel.

As a result, oil stocks have been held back this year. The broad-based iShares Dow Jones US Energy Sector ETF ( IYE) is off more than 12% year to date, more than twice the nearly 6% decline of the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

Although major oil stock Exxon Mobil ( XOM) has "outperformed" its peers, its shares are still in the red since January 2011.

Related: 9 Oil and Energy Stocks to Power Your Portfolio

Despite these headwinds, investors with an eye for the long term should seriously consider jumping into the oil sector right now. Macroeconomic trends across the next few years really favor oil stocks as a long-term buy.

Here are five reasons to drill for profits in oil and energy stocks now:

Dividends, Dividends, Dividends

I have been harping on the power of dividend investing for a while as Treasuries offer meager yields and stable income investments continue to outperform the market. The power of a 3%-plus dividend cannot be understated, and such a yield is the norm for many oil stocks.

From Big Oil companies like Chevron ( CVX) that offer 3.5% dividend yields to dividend-rich depletion trusts like the BP Prudhoe Bay Royalty Trust ( BPT) or the Whiting USA Trust ( WHX) that offer mammoth but wildly fluctuating dividends, there are a host of great income plays in the energy sector now. And as oil prices climb, those dividends will only get juicer.

Also See: 3 Stocks Keeping Up With a Rapidly Changing World

Baseline Demand, With Future Growth

Yes, we haven't seen surging demand for crude. But don't confuse downward estimate revisions for a falling thirst for oil. The International Energy Agency reports that worldwide demand will rise by 1.2% (to 89.3 million barrels a day) this year and 1.6% (to 90.7 million barrels a day) next year. Yes, a global recession continues to take its toll. But even now demand is increasing. Just imagine what will happen once the economy turns a corner. Even if you believe that's a year (or two or three) down the road, the baseline demand should give you incentive to buy in now before crude oil consumption jumps.

Related: Oil Plays: Why Drill When You Can Integrate?

If you liked this article you might like

2 Vulnerable Energy Stocks to Sell Now

3 Sectors to Bet On in 2017 Amid Uncertainty

Four ETFs to Prep for Downside Risk in Equities

Four ETFs Which Could Help Protect Your Portfolio