Exxon's natural-gas buy looking smart now

The energy giant's acquisition of XTO, once considered a boneheaded move, is now garnering analyst enthusiasm. Will other oil companies follow the lead?

By Jim Cramer Feb 2, 2011 9:11AM

jimcramerThere are a gazillion reasons Exxon Mobil (XOM) should be going up. It's showing some growth again. It is re-exerting itself as the best, most disciplined integrated oil company. Oil is spiking because of Middle East tension.

But the main reason I like it for the rally is that the analysts actually have cottoned on to the XTO acquisition. Exxon's management got a boatload of questions about it -- in fact it dominated as a topic -- and made you feel like it was a stroke of brilliance -- not the failed overpay that had been the rap, as XTO is natural gas and natural gas was at its peak when Exxon made the purchase.


This is a very significant change. Part of the newfound love for Exxon is that the company has got some serious growth -- maybe not earnings but growth -- from this acquisition. To me, that means that others, notably Chevron (CVX), Shell (RDS.A) and Occidental (OXY), are watching, and that means I expect a slew of similar acquisitions now that Exxon is no longer being hectored about it.


I think Chesapeake Energy (CHK) is worth a great deal here, much more than it is selling for, as I said earlier in these cyber-pages. But so is Devon Energy (DVN). So is Range Resources (RRC). So is Southwestern Energy (SWN). Any one of these could be picked off by a major and now be blessed, because Exxon is no longer in the doghouse.


Post continues after video:


Sure, some of these have run. But they are nowhere compared with where they could be. Witness that Southwestern was one of the 10 worst-performing stocks in the S&P last year, and I said on my show that it was open to be bought.


This group is moving without the fuel itself moving. What happens if it ever does? What happens if the big dogs get the message from Exxon's stock? What happens if the Chinese take a big swing at the Marcellus assets of National Fuel Gas (NFG), which reports later this week? What happens if, post the noncontroversial second CNOOC deal with Chesapeake, CNOOC buys a major?

I think there is a huge amount to run here. For all of them.


Given the plaudits Exxon is now receiving after what was perceived to be a boneheaded acquisition of XTO not that long ago, I think these all have much, much more to run.


At the time of publication, Cramer was long SWN.


Jim Cramer is co-founder and chairman of TheStreet. He contributes daily market commentary for TheStreet's sites and serves as an adviser to the company's CEO.


Follow Cramer's trades for his Charitable Trust.


Related Articles



Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.


StockScouter rates stocks from 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, using a system of advanced mathematics to determine a stock's expected risk and return. Ratings are displayed on a bell curve, meaning there will be fewer ratings of 1 and 10 and far more of 4 through 7.

123 rated 1
262 rated 2
480 rated 3
651 rated 4
649 rated 5
629 rated 6
616 rated 7
496 rated 8
346 rated 9
111 rated 10

Top Picks

TAT&T Inc9



Top Stocks provides analysis about the most noteworthy stocks in the market each day, combining some of the best content from around the MSN Money site and the rest of the Web.

Contributors include professional investors and journalists affiliated with MSN Money.

Follow us on Twitter @topstocksmsn.