Oil May Be Headed to $60 in 2017: 4 Large Cap Dividend Stocks to Buy Now

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The long decline in oil that started last year ended in February of 2016 with the spot price declining to an incredible $26 per barrel. It also forced many companies to shut down production, lay off workers and scramble to keep the doors open. One thing a huge price drop in any sector does is force out over-enthusiasm and brings a sense of reality back to production levels. In the case of oil, the rig count plummeted and one Wall Street firm feels that all four major producing basins in the United States will show lower production in October.

A new RBC research report says that the four major producing basins in the United States should have a production decline of 59 million barrels per day in October. The firm also thinks oil bottoms late this year and starts a gradual move toward the $60 level in 2017. Last month another major Wall Street firm we cover also made the call on $60 oil for next year.

The best way for investors to play energy remains the large cap, dividend-paying integrateds. Here are four that make good sense for long-term growth accounts.

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.

CEO John Watson made it clear in the spring that preserving the dividend for investors is the top priority. Wall Street analysts point out that although the company trades in line with its peers, the growth potential and solid balance sheet deserve a 10% premium.

Chevron investors receive a 4.35% dividend. The Wall Street consensus price target is $111.33. Shares closed trading Wednesday at $98.42.

Exxon Mobil

This company remains a top Wall Street energy pick. Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) explores for and produces crude oil and natural gas in the United States, Canada, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia and Oceania. It also manufactures and markets commodity petrochemicals, including olefins, aromatics, polyethylene and polypropylene plastics, and specialty products, and it transports and sells crude oil, natural gas, and petroleum products.

Top Wall Street analysts are very positive on the long term as the overall corporate strength of this massive integrated giant plays a significant part in the company’s usually solid earnings reporting pattern and in maintaining dividend coverage.

Exxon is also a very strong company from a financial standpoint. It has an AA+ credit rating and an outstanding debt-to-equity ratio of 0.23. It is free cash flow positive, with the company reporting free cash flow of $6.5 billion in 2015 and management cutting the capital expenditures budget for 2016. This is a sound investment to buy and hold forever.

Exxon investors receive a 3.55% dividend. The consensus price objective is $89.63. Shares closed on Wednesday at $84.60.