JPMorgan Is Playing Oil Safe With 3 Dividend-Paying Integrateds

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While it’s clear that some of the bigger players in the oil markets would like to watch output to keep prices from fading below the $40 level, newer entrants like Iran are vowing to keep their newfound production going full speed ahead. One of the concerns on Wall Street has been how companies will maintain their dividends at these lower levels, and while some already trimmed their payouts to shareholders, others have stood firm with no changes.

A new JPMorgan research report raises price targets on three top integrated companies the firm has rated Overweight, while remaining cautious as a whole on the sector. JPMorgan also acknowledges the importance for the top companies to maintain dividend coverage and balance sheet strength, even if it comes at the expense of production growth.

Here are the three integrated oil companies rated Overweight at JPMorgan

Chevron

This stock is very solid story for investors looking to stay long the energy sector, and it is a preferred U.S. company to own now. Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) is an integrated oil and gas company with worldwide operations in exploration and production, refining and marketing, transportation and petrochemicals. It sports a sizable dividend and has a solid place in the sector when it comes to natural gas and liquefied natural gas (LNG). Some on Wall Street estimate the company will have a compound annual growth rate of over 5% for the next five years.

The company’s Permian Basin assets are a goldmine, and that the Australian LNG business will transition from a yearly $8 billion capital consumption drag to a $2 billion to $3 billion contributor. Combined with the much lower overall capital spending for the 2016 to 2018 period, the company is poised to not only hang around, but end the sector slump in a much better position. The analysts note the Permian acreage is profitable at $40 a barrel.

The JPMorgan team notes that the company is the best in class when it comes to dividend yield, but they feel the need to see free-cash-flow infection reasonably soon is important. They also feel that the dividend being among the highest in the sector gives investors a degree of downside protection.

Chevron investors are paid an outstanding 4.23% dividend. The JPMorgan price target was lifted to $117 from $113. The Wall Street consensus target is posted at $110.75. The shares closed Friday at $101.27 apiece.

ConocoPhillips

This company may offer investors solid upside potential, with little threat of an additional dividend cut after the one earlier this year. ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP) explores for, produces, transports and markets crude oil, bitumen, natural gas, LNG and natural gas liquids (NGLs) worldwide. Conoco’s portfolio includes resource-rich North American tight oil and oil sands assets; lower-risk legacy assets in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia; various international developments; and an inventory of conventional and unconventional exploration prospects.

Many Wall Street analysts feel the company can accelerate growth from a reloaded portfolio depth in the Bakken and Eagle Ford, and with visibility on future growth from a sizable position in the Permian.

The company remains the one of the best values as short sellers circled after the dividend cut and many growth and income managers sold shares. JPMorgan notes that the company has underperformed this year versus its peer group and is offering investors solid value at current trading levels.

Conoco investors are paid a 2.37 % dividend. The JPMorgan price target on the company was raised to $51 from $44, while the consensus price target is $52. Conoco closed Friday at $42.25.

Canadian Natural Resources

This top Canadian play is JPMorgan’s top pick, based on a free-cash-flow yield basis. Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (NYSE: CNQ) acquires, explores for, develops, produces, markets and sells crude oil, natural gas and NGLs. The company offers light and medium crude oil, primary heavy crude oil, Pelican Lake heavy crude oil, bitumen and synthetic crude oil (SCO). Its midstream assets include three crude oil pipeline systems and a 50% working interest in an 84-megawatt cogeneration plant at Primrose.

As of December 31, 2015, the company’s gross proved crude oil, bitumen, SCO and NGLs reserves totaled 4,695 million barrels; gross proved plus probable crude oil, bitumen, SCO and NGLs reserves totaled 7,623 million barrels; proved natural gas reserves totaled 6,106 billion cubic feet; and gross proved plus probable natural gas reserves totaled 8,508 billion cubic feet. It operates primarily in Western Canada; the United Kingdom sector of the North Sea; and Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon and South Africa in Offshore Africa.

JPMorgan feels that the company’s metrics remain among the best in its research universe, and it notes that the improving balance sheet and a big stock buyback program are factors that can drive share prices higher.

Investors are paid a 2.3% dividend. JPMorgan raised its price target to $51 from $47, and the consensus target is much lower at $35.81. The stock closed Friday at $30.63.

Needless to say, investors are rattled, and the selling we saw last week may continue. Any major dip in these three top stocks should be viewed as a golden opportunity for investors with a longer term view to buy shares.