Why Exxon is going up when oil is going down

An ExxonMobil sign is displayed at a gas station in Cincinnati.
Luke Sharrett | Bloomberg | Getty Images
An ExxonMobil sign is displayed at a gas station in Cincinnati.

What the heck is going on with Exxon Mobil? Jim Cramer is scratching his head over the fact that the world's largest oil company is going up when the rest of the oil patch is going down.

Perhaps investors are starting to realize that there are both winners and losers of the oil industry. Finally!

Cramer has been waiting for oil stocks to bifurcate, and that is exactly what is happening. Looks like Charles Darwin was right.

Here is Cramer's theory: "There's more than $200 billion in high-yield paper from the oil patch. We know there are plenty of loans, too. But let's say half of that high-yield corporate paper goes bad. What will happen? How about this: It will give a production challenged company like Exxon the chance to come in and buy pretty much anything it wants to."

Boom.

Exxon previously had a troubled past growing production, but those days are behind as it is now left with the decision to drill in high-risk places or to dominate the oil and gas revolution in the U.S.—Cramer will take option No. 2, Alex.

The "Mad Money" host believes Exxon could even have a whole plethora of options to cherry-pick from, if it so wishes. Exxon has a deep balance sheet and takes a great long-term view of the business. Some have even said it extends 50 years out.

However, Cramer also thinks it is important to keep things in perspective. The threat that oil companies could default on loans is not the same type of threat that the U.S. experienced during the housing recession a few years ago.

The debt for oil companies is concentrated on a few companies with well-documented reserves. Yes, there were a few oil and gas deals that were done when oil was sky high. However, that doesn't mean they have bad assets. It means that the cash flows coming from these companies could be unsustainable.

Cramer thinks that Exxon has a great opportunity here to save the day—and get some cash in its pockets at the same time.

"Consider Exxon as a potentially massive repo man that cobbles together whatever properties it wants—or whatever it can snap up before Statoil or the Koreans or the Japanese or even the Chinese get involved—in order to create a domestic oil powerhouse of incredible proportions."

Though there will be more pain down the road before gain, Exxon could be the key that swoops in and buys up these depressed assets at low prices. Though it could be a dangerous speculation, the fact of the matter is that there are still big players in the oil industry that will need assets, and there will be plenty of companies to pick from. Perhaps the looming disaster of the oil patch is not as bad as the bears think.

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