Oil's going gangbusters, and with a price per barrel now flirting with $120, the good times seem destined to keep on rolling. But what about the companies that dig the stuff up, refine it, ship it, and sell it? As "black gold" roughly doubled in price over the past year, Chevron's (NYSE: CVX) stock, for example, gained just 23%. Might we see Chevron make up some of the other 77% after tomorrow's earnings news?

We'll have time aplenty to dissect Chevron's numbers after the news comes out. But before we begin obsessing over its short-term performance, let's pause to review what investors think about Chevron as a long-term investment. Our tool in this endeavor: Motley Fool CAPS, where we poll more than 100,000 investors for their views on more than 5,000 companies, Chevron included. Here's what Fools have to say about the company and its long-term prospects.

Up or down?
More than 2,000 investors have submitted ratings on Chevron. Their verdict: "Fill 'er up!"

95% of Fools polled agree that Chevron is a winner, and the better the investors, the more likely they're bullish on Chevron. Fully 97% of our CAPS All-Stars like the company, helping Chevron float to the top of its sector:

Integrated Oil & Gas Group

CAPS Rating

Chevron

*****

ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP)

*****

Total (NYSE: TOT)

*****

ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM)

****

BP (NYSE: BP)

****

Sunoco (NYSE: SUN)

****

PetroChina (NYSE: PTR)

****

Bull pitch
The top-rated CAPS pitch for Chevron states the bull case plainly: "Oil is always going to be a top pick as long as we continue to rely on this unrenewable resource. With the population continually growing, more and more people will be adding cars to the road that run off gasoline."

Bear pitch
To which pessimists reply with varying combinations of sound economic theory, wishful thinking, and a bit more punctuation than absolutely necessary. For example, one bear writes:

The commidity oil run was nice while it lasted, but the party is now soon over. Run & Hide-Run & Hide!! The commodity move always happens in cycles, with extreme values (such as the peak last year) finding their way back to the trailing average. This time is not different.

I can't fault the logic here -- oil is a cyclical commodity, and the way of such things is for prices to rise until they become unaffordable, at which point the people who can't afford them stop buying, reducing demand, and hence price. The trick is figuring out the inflection point (a trick I admit I haven't mastered myself), and guessing wrong on that can cost you big time. For example, the author of today's anti-Chevron rant has already suffered 42 points worth of market underperformance in the 15 months since he wrote it -- 42 points and counting.

Who said that?
To learn the identities of the wise Fools who penned these words, examine their records (and see whether they know whereof they speak), and to explore the plethora of additional financial data we've put together on the company, just click here.

Fool contributor Rich Smith does not own shares of any company named above. You can find him on CAPS, publicly pontificating under the handle TMFDitty, where he's currently ranked No. 917 out of more than 100,000 players. Total is an Income Investor recommendation. The Fool has a disclosure policy.