Seeing Profits at CNOOC

From its opening ceremonies to its public squares, Great Walls, and even oil profits, China likes to do everything big.

The results from oil producer CNOOC (NYSE: CEO  ) for the first half of 2008 were nothing short of immense. The company grew profits by 89% to $4 billion over the first half of 2007, on the strength of a 74.3% increase in the average realized price of oil.

The company has some ground to cover before closing in on ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM  ) and its staggering profit of $22.6 billion during the same period, but with unceasing oil demand from a Chinese economy that grew its gross domestic product at 10.4% during the half, CNOOC appears destined to follow in the behemoth's footsteps. I think that with a commitment to keeping costs low, new discoveries filing into the fold, exclusive rights to drilling in China's territorial waters, and a wad of cash $5.5 billion strong, CNOOC has the tools necessary to make it happen.

The talented investors at Motley Fool CAPS agree. They've given CNOOC a four-star rating, on par with that of British oil giant BP (NYSE: BP  ) . CAPS member paulnovell stated his case for the producer most succinctly: "Monopoly drilling rights offshore China, the lowest cost oil & gas [exploration and production] company in the world, expanding outside China, shareholder friendly management, access to growth in China GDP, [price-to-earnings ratio] of 9, [dividend] yield of 3%, 25%+ earnings/div growth rates over the last 5 years."

Chinese state control has been something of a boon for CNOOC -- it has given the company dibs on what's considered a massive untapped resource in the South China Sea. Integrated producers such as PetroChina (NYSE: PTR  ) and Sinopec (NYSE: SNP  ) , however, have not fared as well. Both of those companies saw huge reductions in profit for the first half, as mandated caps on gasoline prices destroyed refining margins.

The state giveth, and the state taketh away. When it comes to a pure-play oil and gas producer like CNOOC, the state clearly giveth.

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Fool contributor Christopher Barker captains yachts and writes about stocks. He can also be found blogging actively and acting Foolishly within the CAPS community under the username TMFSinchiruna. He owns shares of CNOOC and PetroChina. CNOOC is a Motley Fool Global Gains recommendation. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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