For Bargain Hunters, ConocoPhillips May Be a Diamond in the Rough Oil Patch

NEW YORK (TheStreet) – Even though the price of crude oil has fallen more than 25% since June, ConocoPhillips (COP) , the third-largest energy company in the U.S., may be worth a second look for investors seeking a bargain.

That's because with its strong balance sheet, ConocoPhiliips can adjust its expenses according to the price of oil to maintain its profitability. Last week, the company said its earnings rose 9% in the third quarter despite a 16% drop in revenue and said it will reduce its capital spending to less than $16 billion next year from the estimated $16.7 billion in spending for this year.

But even with the lower spending, ConocoPhillips projects its production will increase 3% to 5% in 2015, because it will be able to squeeze more oil from its more-developed fields with higher returns in places such as the Eagle Ford Shale in Texas and the Bakken Shale in North Dakota. Meanwhile, it will cut spending in less profitable fields.

Shares of ConocoPhillips, which closed Monday at $70.56, have fallen 12.6% during the past three months, dropping with the price of oil. The stock trades at 9.5 times this year's estimated earnings, roughly half the level of the Standard & Poor's 500 Index, and has a dividend yield of 4%, compared with 2.9% for Exxon Mobil (XOM) and 3.6% for Chevron (CVX)

There's upside, too, with the stock price. According to CNNMoney, the median 12-month price target of analysts is $87, which is about 22% higher than Monday's closing price.

At the time of publication, the author held no position in any of the stocks mentioned.

Follow @Richard_WSPB

This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff.


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 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 expanding profit margins, good cash flow from operations and increase in net income. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had lackluster performance in the stock itself."

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

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