Track the companies that matter to you. It's FREE! Click one of these fan favorites to get started: Apple; Google; Ford.



1 Undervalued Oil Giant to Fuel Your Portfolio

Don't let it get away!

Keep track of the stocks that matter to you.

Help yourself with the Fool's FREE and easy new watchlist service today.

France might be in the thick of the eurozone fight for survival, but the nation's troubles don't mean investors can't profit from its best and strongest companies. French supermajor oil corporation Total SA (NYSE: TOT  ) has risen steadily for two weeks, up from near-52 week lows originating from lackluster earnings, fears over Europe's economy, and Brent crude prices that dipped considerably from March highs of more than $120 per barrel. Fortunately for interested shareholders, Total's rebound could be headed higher.

Highs and lows around the globe
Total underperformed the market for most of 2012's first half, dropping into the $40 price range on three consecutive quarterly earnings misses. A gas leak at the company's Elgin wellhead platform in the North Sea cost the company a further $7.5 billion.

Woes have continued stockpiling for Total. Iraq's oil ministry threatened the company with cutting all contracts after a deal in the nation's northern Kurdish region. Given that Iraqi oil fields currently produce more than 3 million barrels daily and aim for future production levels of 11 million barrels per day, Total faces a sticky situation in the Fertile Crescent.

Potential shareholders would be wise to keep an eye on the company's dealings in Iraq and the region as a whole -- particularly with sociopolitical unrest still raging since last year's Arab Spring. The company holds the majority of its reserves in the two regions, making ongoing political instability a threat, particularly considering Iranian threats around the Strait of Hormuz -- a locale that oversees 17 million barrels of oil per day. Any military action in that politically valuable chokehold could seriously damage oil exports from the Middle East.

Still, Total's considerable exposure in high-output regions such as these should have investors optimistic about the future. The company recently took on operatorship of a Brazilian offshore drilling block, setting up a promising first step to increasing the company's presence in the Western Hemisphere.

Of course, rising oil prices -- Brent spot prices currently sit at $114.48 per barrel after bottoming out below $90 -- would certainly boost the company's financials.

Something for every investor
Total's financials won't blow away Wall Street, but they do stack up well with other Big Oil rivals.



Net Margin

Return on Equity

Dividend Yield

Total SA 8.3 6.2% 16.2% 4.9%
BP (NYSE: BP  ) 7.8 4.6% 15.9% 4.5%
Chevron (NYSE: CVX  ) 8.4 11.6% 21.6% 2.9%
ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM  ) 9.3 10.4% 29% 2.6%

Powerhouse industry titans Exxon and Chevron lead in fundamentals such as profitability, but value-oriented and income investors alike could find a gem in Total's stock. The company has grown its dividend at a five-year rate of 4%, with plenty of room to keep growing through a respectable 41% dividend payout ratio. Even though income investors should already be pleased with Total's nearly 5% yield, the company boasts room to grow as well.

Total sports a forward P/E of just under 6.8, far below the rate of competitors, such as Exxon's 11.1 ratio. While that should make value investors smile, the stock's short interest inexplicably jumped almost 143% recently. Potential shareholders could see a nice gain while the rest of the market turns its back on this promising stock.

Wall Street may irrationally abhor Total right now, but that's one of the best times for you to pick up a piece of this oil behemoth. Oil has risen consistently as of late and shows no sign of slowing down, a great trend for Total shareholders. Although the stock has recovered somewhat from its 52-week lows, now's still a great time for investors to get a piece of the action. I'm confident enough in this industry titan's strengths that I'm putting in an outperform call on CAPS.

Investors taking a shot on oil companies could reap big rewards if oil prices jump anywhere near previous highs. With crude oil inching up toward $100, stay ahead of the curve by checking out The Motley Fool's free report "3 Stocks for $100 Oil." Pricey oil can be a pain at the pump, but don't miss the opportunity to profit there as well -- get your free copy.

Fool contributor Dan Carroll holds no positions in the stocks mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool owns shares of ExxonMobil. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Chevron and Total. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Read/Post Comments (0) | Recommend This Article (7)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

Be the first one to comment on this article.

Compare Brokers

Fool Disclosure

Sponsored Links

Leaked: Apple's Next Smart Device
(Warning, it may shock you)
The secret is out... experts are predicting 458 million of these types of devices will be sold per year. 1 hyper-growth company stands to rake in maximum profit - and it's NOT Apple. Show me Apple's new smart gizmo!

DocumentId: 1990061, ~/Articles/ArticleHandler.aspx, 10/28/2016 7:57:51 PM

Report This Comment

Use this area to report a comment that you believe is in violation of the community guidelines. Our team will review the entry and take any appropriate action.

Sending report...

Today's Market

updated Moments ago Sponsored by:
DOW 18,161.19 -8.49 -0.05%
S&P 500 2,126.41 -6.63 -0.31%
NASD 5,190.10 -25.87 -0.50%

Create My Watchlist

Go to My Watchlist

You don't seem to be following any stocks yet!

Better investing starts with a watchlist. Now you can create a personalized watchlist and get immediate access to the personalized information you need to make successful investing decisions.

Data delayed up to 5 minutes

Related Tickers

10/28/2016 4:02 PM
TOT $48.25 Down -0.13 -0.27%
Total CAPS Rating: ****
BP $35.68 Down -0.32 -0.89%
BP CAPS Rating: ****
CVX $103.82 Up +3.90 +3.90%
Chevron CAPS Rating: ****
XOM $84.78 Down -2.14 -2.46%
ExxonMobil CAPS Rating: ****