The Bullish and Bearish Case for Chevron in 2014

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Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) saw its shares gain about 18% in 2013, underperforming the Dow Jones Industrial Average’s rise of more than 26% and the S&P 500’s gain of almost 30%. The question now is what to expect in 2014. 24/7 Wall St. has generated a bullish and bearish scenario for Chevron and each other Dow stock for 2014.

For starters, there are many macroeconomic factors to consider when it comes to Chevron and the oil and gas markets. Most Wall Street strategists are forecasting higher price targets for the S&P 500 and the Dow, and the rising tide may only help to lift most stocks. The Federal Reserve is getting a new chairman, the Fed tapering is already being telegraphed and the new consensus seems to be that the expected rise in interest rates may simply not be enough to crush the economy.

The world markets are exiting their recessions at the same time that U.S. gross domestic product is expected to tick up. All of this is good for Chevron, and the recent move back to $100 oil will help the overall outlook from oil executives. The same issues will be true for rival Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM), and the big Warren Buffett stake in Exxon is one that also works to the favor of both oil and gas giants.

The outlook for Chevron remains positive. After closing out 2013 at almost $125, Chevron’s current dividend yield for 2014 of 3.2% handily outpaces that of Exxon’s 2.5% yield. It is also widely expected that both Chevron and Exxon Mobil will hike dividends in 2014 as well. Chevron’s consensus analyst price target is $132.33, and the 52-week trading range is $109.10 to $127.83.

Chevron’s bullish case is one that revolves around the United States returning as the major energy producer. Oil and gas are hot markets now, and the opportunity to selectively make acquisitions is one that remains in place today. Chevron is also cheap against the market at 10 times expected 2014 earnings.

The bearish case against Chevron has limited revenue growth expected. Analysts believe that the contraction in revenue would be about 2% in 2013 and almost the same in 2014. This contraction may be heavily dependent on the price of oil, and there is always the potential that Iran could flood the markets with cheap oil ahead if it needs to raise more cash after embargoes are further lifted. International lawsuits could also continue to create charges, and of course there is the issue that alternative and renewable energy could threaten Big Oil’s profits out in the next decade.

All in all, Chevron’s prospects remain to the upside. Its stock is now considerably cheaper than rival Exxon Mobil’s forward earnings multiple of almost 12.5 times earnings. It seems that Buffett chose Exxon because of its size, but generally what is good for one oil giant is good for the other.

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