Beaudo said the company plans to do that through "delivering 3% to 5% production growth, 3% to 5% margin expansion with a dividend today that is yielding in excess of 4%. We think this is a pretty compelling formula."

Here's a one-year price chart including a look at the energy behemoth's trailing 12-month operating margin.

COP Chart
COP data by YCharts

A nearly 25% operating margin is impressive when compared to industry leader Exxon Mobil (XOM) with an operating margin of only 11%. The chart also highlights the low debt-to-equity ratio, another indicator that there's plenty of room for shares of COP to rise in the months ahead.

Beaudo noted that with the company's growing cash margins and cash flows, "we didn't forget about our shareholders and increased our dividend, which has been our promise and our commitment."

If you remained a Conoco shareholders through 2013, "you achieved over 22% return in excess of our integrated competition and well in excess of our independent peers, and in fact exceeded the S&P 500," said Beaudo.

My 12-month price target of $92 reflects those bullish points. Buy some shares before Warren Buffett decides to increase his stake in ConocoPhillips after all.

At the time of publication, the author held no positions in any of the stocks mentioned, although positions may change at any time.

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This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.


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

"We rate CONOCOPHILLIPS (COP) a BUY. This is driven by a number of 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 revenue growth, attractive valuation levels, increase in net income, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures and solid stock price performance. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had somewhat disappointing return on equity."

You can view the full analysis from the report here: COP Ratings Report

Marc Courtenay is a financial research analyst and the founder of Advanced Investor Technologies LLC as well as the publisher and editor of www.ChecktheMarkets.com.

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