What happened

Oil prices are up in today -- and shares of oil major ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP) are right up there with them.

According to OilPrice.com data, the cost of a barrel of WTI crude oil is up a solid 2% as of 1 p.m. EST, and Conoco stock is racing ahead even farther than that, enjoying a 5.3% rise.

Arrow rising above five oil barrels of increasing size

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

Part of the gain owes certainly to the fact that ConocoPhillips is an oil stock. But part of the credit for today's run higher must go to the analysts at Bank of America Securities, who chose this morning to upgrade shares of ConocoPhillips to buy with a $44 price target.

Yes, you read that right. According to BofA, ConocoPhillips stock that currently costs barely $30 a share is in fact worth closer to $44, reports TheFly.com today.

Now what

That's a huge profit that BofA is projecting for ConocoPhillips investors -- on the order of 50%. What's even more surprising, though, is that the analyst actually thinks that the company's upside potential is less than investors can find in other oil major stocks. Oil prices that currently hover below $37 a barrel have a long way to rise, in BofA's view, and ConocoPhillips' only "moderate oil leverage" (relative to its interests in natural gas) mean investors may find even better options out there than Conoco stock.

Which other oil stocks in particular? BofA doesn't say but...I can't help but notice that while Yahoo! Finance data has ConocoPhillips stock trading at 42 times forward earnings, ExxonMobil shares cost less than 22 times forward earnings.

That's not an endorsement of Exxon, mind you. It's just something worth considering.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.