Hot on the heels of ConocoPhillips' (NYSE:COP) earnings announcement on Wednesday, ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM) -- the energy industry's 900-pound gorilla and a Motley Fool Inside Value Watch List pick -- weighed in with its own similarly robust second-quarter results. Propelled by the soaring price of crude, ExxonMobil racked up big gains during the period, doling out $1.20 per stub on net income of some $7.6 billion.

Those numbers reflect a previously announced $200 million charge the company took in light of a Supreme Court decision allowing litigation related to a discount-for-cash program to proceed. This litigation relates to a disagreement between dealers and ExxonMobil over costs incurred while offering consumers discounts for paying cash for their gasoline.

If not for that special item, ExxonMobil would have delivered $1.23 per share. That figure misses the consensus estimate by a penny, but it represents quite a leap over the company's comparable 2004 mark. This time last year, ExxonMobil checked in with earnings per share of $0.88 on net income of $5.8 billion.

That's all good news, of course, but the question on inquiring investors' minds these days remains whether oil companies are attractive investments right now.

The answer? Maybe. But you need to be long-term in focus and do your homework so you can separate the worthies from the coulda-been-contenders.

It's particularly prudent these days to discount for the high price of oil -- which is currently lifting all boats and, if history is any guide, will ebb at some point -- and focus instead on the diversity of each company's revenue stream and operational prowess.

It's in those areas that I think ExxonMobil earns the price-multiple premium that it currently trades at relative to such competitors as ConocoPhillips and Chevron (NYSE:CVX). Meanwhile, on the other side of valuation equation, the company looks like a relative bargain compared with the more richly valued likes of BP (NYSE:BP) and Motley Fool Income Investor selection Total SA (NYSE:TOT).

To wit: ExxonMobil's announcement points to success on multiple fronts, with the firm making solid strides in its "upstream" operations (primarily exploration and production) where profits rose to $4.9 billion, as well as on the "downstream" side -- i.e., refining crude and bringing it to market. That part of the business kicked in $2.2 billion, a $714 million increase over the year-ago period. The firm's chemical unit, meanwhile, saw its profits climb to $814 million, thanks to higher margins.

What's more, the company isn't being chintzy when it comes to funding projects for future revenue, either: ExxonMobil's capital and exploration spending jumped by nearly $1 billion. It's not for nothing, in other words, that the firm is ramping up its share-repurchase program, which is expected to hit the $5 billion mark in the next quarter.

Long-term investors hankering for additional energy exposure may want to take a hint and follow the company's lead there. Among the majors, ExxonMobil seems especially well-positioned for the long haul.

Other Foolishness:

Motley Fool Inside Value advisor Philip Durell has been keeping an eye on ExxonMobil for the past several months.Click hereto learn more.

Shannon Zimmerman is the lead analyst of The Motley Fool's Champion Funds newsletter service. Shannon doesn't own any of the securities mentioned above, and you can check out the Fool's rock-solid disclosure policy by clicking right here.