Chevron

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Oil and gas supermajor Chevron ( CVX) may seem like a surprising name to see on institutional investors list of most-loved stocks. After all, the energy sector has been struggling to keep pace with the S&P 500 this year, and in the aggregate, funds had a net decrease in their energy holdings. But Chevron wasn't a decrease -- funds picked up around 4 million shares this year, hardly conviction buying but buying nonetheless.

>>5 Stocks With Big Insider Buying

Chevron owns proven reserves of 11.3 billion barrels of oil equivalent and produces around 2.6 million barrels each day, enough to make it the No. 2 oil company in the country. But all of that is less important in a market that's valuing quality above all else. Instead, Chevron's best-in-breed balance sheet likely has something to do with all of the portfolio managers who've been buying shares. At last count, the firm boasted a $3.2 billion net cash position.

The oil business isn't about instant gratification, which means that all of the high-dollar exploration efforts that Chevron has been investing in over years past (when oil was at peak pricing) are only just starting to pan out. Obviously, it takes a lot of oil and gas to materially impact sales for a firm with CVX's scale, but the firm has many pots on the fire. Hefty exposure to liquids should have an even more dramatic impact on sales if oil prices resume their upward trajectory in 2013.

I also featured Chevron recnetly in " 5 Big Trades for a Ping-Pong Market."

To see these stocks in action, check out the Summer 2013 Institutional Buys portfolio on Stockpickr.

-- Written by Jonas Elmerraji in Baltimore.

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At the time of publication, author had no positions in stocks mentioned.

Jonas Elmerraji, CMT, is a senior market analyst at Agora Financial in Baltimore and a contributor to TheStreet. Before that, he managed a portfolio of stocks for an investment advisory returned 15% in 2008. He has been featured in Forbes , Investor's Business Daily, and on CNBC.com. Jonas holds a degree in financial economics from UMBC and the Chartered Market Technician designation.

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