The Dow Hits New Heights, but ExxonMobil and Chevron Get Left Behind

The Dow Jones Industrials traded above their all-time closing record high Thursday morning, but energy stocks didn't join in the fun.

May 8, 2014 at 12:30PM

Investors had to wait four months into 2014 to see the Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES:^DJI) hit a new record closing high, but if the index can hold on to its morning gains, it'll reach its second record this year a whole lot sooner. As of 12:30 p.m. EDT, the Dow was up 97 points, setting itself up for a possible all-time high at the end of trading. Yet even though news on the economic and geopolitical fronts look better than in past weeks, Dow components ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM) and Chevron (NYSE:CVX) were among a handful of stocks that actually lost ground in the broader market's run-up.


ExxonMobil's 0.3% drop comes as somewhat of a surprise, given the news yesterday that Russian President Vladimir Putin had withdrawn forces from the Ukraine border. The de-escalation helped reduce the chances of economic sanctions against Russia, which could have prompted Moscow to clamp down on projects such as ExxonMobil's partnership with Rosneft in the Russian Arctic region. Yet even though easing tensions could make Exxon's Russia projects more likely to continue, a study from a nongovernmental climate-change policy group argues that those and similarly expensive exploration projects could end up being a waste of investment capital, given the need for prevailing oil prices to stay high in order to justify their higher costs. Some investors will dismiss the group's study as pursuing a specific agenda, but the financial risks involved in high-cost drilling are substantial even without considering the potential climate-change impacts.


Source: Chevron.

Meanwhile, Chevron fell half of a percent after being downgraded by an analyst firm. Investors are concerned about Chevron's ability to keep production growing, despite a reasonably strong pipeline of future development projects that the company hopes will lead to higher oil and gas volumes. Unlike ExxonMobil, which chose to keep capital expenditures under control in order to keep overall costs down, Chevron expects to spend more freely on prospective new discoveries and on existing projects. For long-term investors, though, analysts' focus on short-term profit trends isn't nearly as important as the greater challenge of figuring out where future production growth will come from. Without continual additions of resources, neither Chevron nor ExxonMobil are likely to succeed in keeping revenue on the rise, and that could spell big long-run problems for both of the oil giants.

The energy components of the Dow Jones Industrials represent an important constituency in the broader stock market. Given how important the energy boom has been to U.S. economic growth in recent years, any signs of weakness from energy stocks is worthy of attention from investors considering making an investment in the Dow.

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Dan Caplinger has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Chevron. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

4 in 5 Americans Are Ignoring Buffett's Warning

Don't be one of them.

Jun 12, 2015 at 5:01PM

Admitting fear is difficult.

So you can imagine how shocked I was to find out Warren Buffett recently told a select number of investors about the cutting-edge technology that's keeping him awake at night.

This past May, The Motley Fool sent 8 of its best stock analysts to Omaha, Nebraska to attend the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting. CEO Warren Buffett and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger fielded questions for nearly 6 hours.
The catch was: Attendees weren't allowed to record any of it. No audio. No video. 

Our team of analysts wrote down every single word Buffett and Munger uttered. Over 16,000 words. But only two words stood out to me as I read the detailed transcript of the event: "Real threat."

That's how Buffett responded when asked about this emerging market that is already expected to be worth more than $2 trillion in the U.S. alone. Google has already put some of its best engineers behind the technology powering this trend. 

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KPMG advises we're "on the cusp of revolutionary change" coming much "sooner than you think."

Even one legendary MIT professor had to recant his position that the technology was "beyond the capability of computer science." (He recently confessed to The Wall Street Journal that he's now a believer and amazed "how quickly this technology caught on.")

Yet according to one J.D. Power and Associates survey, only 1 in 5 Americans are even interested in this technology, much less ready to invest in it. Needless to say, you haven't missed your window of opportunity. 

Think about how many amazing technologies you've watched soar to new heights while you kick yourself thinking, "I knew about that technology before everyone was talking about it, but I just sat on my hands." 

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David Hanson owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and American Express. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, Google, and Coca-Cola.We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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