Too many investors get too excited about a certain stock, jumping in without comparing it to other possibilities. This is equally true for great investments and terrible ones. That's why I'm about to play devil's advocate.

In this series, I try to help investors see greater possibilities by highlighting a few other companies to consider before you take the plunge into a given stock.

Today's stock is the big daddy of Big Oil, ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM). Let's consider some other possibilities.

Two big oil alternatives
When I recently took a look at the most popular energy stocks with a dividend yield of at least 3%, ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP) and Marathon Oil (NYSE: MRO) topped the list. Each stock rates five stars out of a possible five. If you're wondering, ExxonMobil rates four stars.

Two big dividend alternatives
ExxonMobil is no dividend slouch, hovering right around the 3% yield threshold. However, last time I looked, 70 energy stocks pay bigger dividends. Of the ones with market caps above $1 billion, natural gas liquids services provider Provident Energy Trust (NYSE: PVX) and offshore drilling contractor SeaDrill Limited (NYSE: SDRL) topped the list. Their dividend yields are currently at 10.7% and 9.7%, respectively.   

Know that Exxon's payouts to shareholders are understated, though, because it routinely buys back a massive amount of its stock.

Two natural gas plays
When I recently bumped Linn Energy,Chesapeake Energy (NYSE: CHK), and SandRidge Energy (NYSE: SD) against each other to see which was the best buy, Chesapeake Energy won easily by the numbers, topping the rankings in four out of the five categories I compared.

However, in the poll that followed the article, readers were fairly evenly split among the three. SandRidge was the winner there -- barely.

The final reminder
As you decide between ExxonMobil and these other alternatives (or none of the above), remember that one compelling reason does not an investment thesis make. Each reason is merely a starting point.

Also, remember that I don't point out these alternatives to denigrate ExxonMobil. They are merely alternatives to compare, contrast, and consider. In fact, I think ExxonMobil is an excellent buy at today's depressed prices. I bought in a few months ago at a slightly higher price.

Good luck in your research!

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