For many of us, when we conjure up thoughts of European-based oil and gas companies, we get about as far as Royal Dutch Shell
Like the 50-1 shot that astoundingly won the Kentucky Derby going away on Saturday, Total easily topped the field in the most recent quarter, a tough one for big and small energy companies alike. Not that Total was ever a major underdog within the oil group. I've been intrigued by the company and its performance for eons. But like the astounding gelding in Louisville, it pretty much made a mockery of the race for the quarter ending in March.
Indeed, Total's relatively modest dip was based in part on a 4.3% fall in hydrocarbon production, compared to the first quarter in 2008. But if you listen closely to the company, that particular tide should turn in the coming months. For instance, the huge Akpo field in the deep waters offshore Nigeria just started production and "will contribute significantly to production for the rest of the year," according to Total CEO Christophe de Margerie. Beyond that, the deepwater Tahiti field, operated in the Gulf of Mexico by Chevron
Beyond all this, there are a couple of metrics you should know about. Total trades at an 8.68 forward P/E and will start you off with a 5.00% forward dividend yield. For Exxon, those numbers are 11.76 and 2.50%, while Chevron carries a 9.45 forward P/E and a 4.00% forward yield. All things considered, if you're into energy -- and you should be -- it looks to me like Total is worth some additional Foolish study time.
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