Is the World's Biggest Name a Value?

I take my investment ideas -- or confirmation thereof -- where I can get them. But, especially amid current market conditions, anytime I find myself in a camp with fellows named Buffett or Gates, I take heart.

Largely for that reason, I was pleased to note Tuesday that the Gates Foundation was concentrating on value holdings, and that ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM  ) is a top holding of the foundation. There may not be anything revolutionary there; everybody knows about ExxonMobil. But the major oil companies have been in some disfavor of late -- including from yours truly. Falling oil prices have led to falling ExxonMobil shares, and continued weak refining results have only added gasoline to the fire.

So why is it sensible to revisit ExxonMobil today? For starters, the shares' recent slide has left them trading at a forward P/E of only a shade higher than 8 -- or less than half that of fading New York Times (NYSE: NYT  ) -- and a PEG ratio of just 0.77. At the same time, its return on equity is a sprightly 36% -- far superior to the other integrated oil majors -- and it'll start you off with a forward dividend yield above 2%.

Then there are some less numeric plusses in the company's column. For instance, it roams the world, hitting places like Russia, Qatar, and Europe in the difficult quest for oil and gas. Just this week, ExxonMobil is formally teaming up with Chevron (NYSE: CVX  ) , Petro-Canada (NYSE: PCZ  ) , and Norsk Hydro in a $4.7 billion project to develop the Hebron oil field 220 miles southeast of St. John's, Newfoundland.

I'm also inclined to value ExxonMobil's spunk. Two examples: When most of the other Big Oil companies in Venezuela folded when their assets were gobbled up by Hugo Chavez a year ago, ExxonMobil faced off against the wily president and is now pursuing its case in international arbitration. And while the likes of BP (NYSE: BP  ) and Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE: RDS-A  ) (NYSE: RDS-B  ) have been cuffed around by Russia's progressively more contentious government, ExxonMobil has made its project on Sakhalin Island a noteworthy success.

So with the market daily becoming more frightening, it just might be time for Foolish investors to revisit the biggest name of all. You may be surprised to learn that ExxonMobil has now been accorded four stars by Motley Fool CAPS players. Are you interested in helping to add another?

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Fool contributor David Lee Smith doesn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned. The Fool has a disclosure policy that works in all languages.


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