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S&P 500   3,841.47
DOW   30,996.98
QQQ   325.42
S&P 500   3,841.47
DOW   30,996.98
QQQ   325.42
S&P 500   3,841.47
DOW   30,996.98
QQQ   325.42
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Exxon’s (NYSE:XOM) 7% Yield Is A Buy And Hold For 2021

Thursday, January 14, 2021 | Thomas Hughes
Exxon’s (NYSE:XOM) 7% Yield Is A Buy And Hold For 2021Exxon’s 7% Yield Is A Good Way To Play The Energy Rebound

 Energy and the energy complex began to emerge as a rebound story in late 2020. After years of sluggishness the price of oil was creeping higher, the EIA forecast for 2021 prices was bullish, as is the forecast for demand. Add to this the Saudi pledge to curb production and the outlook for a vaccine-led recovery and the bull case or oil and energy stocks only gets stronger. That’s why it’s no surprise to see that Exxon (NYSE:XOM) has been getting upgraded and that its shares prices are moving higher as well.

 The Analysts Warm Up To Exxon Mobil

The average rating on Exxon Mobil is still Hold but the sentiment has been improving steadily for the last six months. Over that time the stock has attracted a few more Neutral/Holders and some of the existing fence-sitters have turned bullish. The downside to this part of the story is that the consensus price target has crept lower even while the sentiment improved and shed $5 or about 10% at the same time. That said, there’s been a string of positive notes, upgrades, and price-target increases since the first of the year that suggests this stock should be trading closer to $59 than the current consensus of $49.

The first of the recent string of upgrades comes from Morgan Stanley. The analysts there upped the stock to Overweight from Equal Weight and gave it a price target of $57. What’s more, the stock supplanted Chevron as the firm’s top pick among the integrated energy companies citing the company’s potential for leverage. Exxon Mobil has been cutting back on CAPEX and streamlining operations which, when coupled with rising oil and nat gas prices, will provide a launchpad for earnings.

The most recent upgrade comes from JP Morgan. Analysts at this firm upped the stock to Overweight after having it set at Neutral for over 7 years. According to them Exxon Mobil has pulled back from the brink of dividend cuts citing the company’s fiscal discipline, rising commodity prices, and a consensus estimate for 2021 that is too low even if Brent moves back down to the $50 range.

"Perhaps most importantly," said analyst Phil Gresh, "capital discipline is improving, with the $20B-$25B capex budget a self-imposed step required to preserve the dividend and balance sheet. Putting this all together, we envision a potential upside case where XOM's dividend coverage breakeven approaches $45/bbl Brent and its FCF yield approaches 11.5% at $60/bbl Brent longer term." Brent crude traded above $56 in recent action.

Exxon’s 7% Yield Is Safe Enough

Exxon’s 7% yield is safe enough but it was in question. The company is not expected to produce positive earnings in the 2020 fiscal period and that was cutting into the company’s cash position. Looking forward, the $1.58 in expected EPS for the 2021 period is still only half the company’s expected distribution but there are some mitigating factors.

First, the balance sheet is still in great shape with very low relative debt and a high level of cash. The company can sustain operations, pay the dividend, and service its debt for several years at this pace. Second, if JP Morgan is right and the price of Brent and WTI are already above the company's dividend break-even point coverage is more than sufficient.

The Technical Outlook: Exxon Is In Reversal

Shares of Exxon Mobil have been tracking higher along with oil prices over the past two months. Most recently, the stock broke above resistance at the $45.50 level confirming a reversal. Based on the magnitude of the Head & Shoulders Reversal pattern of $12.50 this stock could easily see prices move up to the $58 level over the coming quarter. The next big catalyst for the stock, other than the analysts, could be earnings which are due out in a couple of weeks. Better than expected earnings and/or outlook will only improve the stock’s attractiveness as a high-yield rebound story for 2021.

Exxon’s (NYSE:XOM) 7% Yield Is A Buy And Hold For 2021

Companies Mentioned in This Article

CompanyMarketRank™Current PricePrice ChangeDividend YieldP/E RatioConsensus RatingConsensus Price Target
Exxon Mobil (XOM)1.5$47.43flat7.34%28.23Hold$49.15
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4%-plus yields might seem like an easy opportunity to boost the investment income you receive, but high-yield stocks can just as often be a track reading to snare unsuspecting investors. It's not always easy to tell the difference though.

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View the "20 High-Yield Dividend Stocks that Could Ruin Your Retirement Portfolio".

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