Given that the stock market continues to set new highs, it's incredibly hard right now to find cheap stocks. There is nevertheless one sector that's bucking this trend: energy. Thanks to low oil and gas prices, shares of even the biggest and best managed energy companies have taken a hit.
In this episode ofIndustry Focus: Financials, The Motley Fool's Gaby Lapera and John Maxfield talk about whyExxonMobil(NYSE: XOM) is one of John's favorite stocks right now.
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A full transcript follows the video.
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This podcast was recorded on Aug. 22, 2016.
John Maxfield: My first stock that I'm thinking about is in another sector that, like banking, is really lagging the market right now, and that's the energy sector. We have [oil] prices that were well over $100 a barrel a couple years ago, and in 2014, they started heading down very sharply. Now, they're around $50 a barrel right now. I think they'd gone down below $30 a barrel. That's really constraining profitability in the energy space, just like all these issues, these headwinds, that are causing banks profitability to fall. The thing is that you've got to keep in mind that everything works in cycles -- whether it's banking, whether it's energy. It is possible that oil prices could stay low for the rest of human existence, but that seems unlikely when you look at the history of oil prices and how volatile they are.
The one that I like in the energy industry, and I actually own this stock, isExxon. Of course, I know that [choosing] Exxon is like, "He picked the most boring one in all the energy industry," but the thing I like about Exxon is that it is really capably managed. As opposed to being just an oil and gas company, I think you can look at Exxon more as an energy platform. Even if things change in the industry, which they will, it will move away probably from fossil fuels. That's already going on, and it will move into other areas. But if a company like ExxonMobil can play it right, it can dominate that new space just as much as it's been dominating the current space. When you look at what happened to a stock price over the past few years and its profitability, it just seems to me like this is a great opportunity to get in on a great company in a sector that is ailing.
Gaby Lapera: Can I ask you a little bit about what Exxon actually does? Because I know that there's different players in the energy space. There's people who look for oil and there's people who actually construct the physical pipelines and there's all sort of different players in the field. What kind of work does Exxon do?
Maxfield: It's an integrated oil company, which means that it does pieces all along that production chain in terms of going out, finding gas, drilling it, and then delivering it to consumers. This is another great aspect of Exxon, because you have that natural hedge from the fact that it is in so many of these different areas. Let's say, for example, selling gasoline to consumers. Well, low oil prices are really bad on the production side, but not as bad on the consumer side, because consumers are going to be, presumably, buying more gas when prices are low. I'm glad you brought that up. That's another point about Exxon that is a real selling point for investors.
Lapera: It's what we call vertical integration.
Gaby Lapera has no position in any stocks mentioned. John Maxfield owns shares of ExxonMobil. The Motley Fool owns shares of ExxonMobil. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.