The energy sector is now on the rebound as crude oil prices bounce back. But there's another reason traders are looking at those stocks: juicy dividends.
Oil stocks got hammered in previous months as the price of crude plummeted. Yet one of the effects of falling share prices is higher dividend yields. As the S&P 500's energy sector dropped 19 percent in the second half of 2014, forward estimated dividend yields went from 2.3 percent to 3.0 percent (per FactSet data). This is because many companies consider dividends a high priority, and so are greatly resistant to cutting them even in bad times.
For a couple of the mega-cap oil companies, yields are even higher. Exxon Mobil, the third-largest company in the S&P 500, now has a dividend yield of nearly 3.2 percent, while Chevron's yield is 3.9 percent.
And according to Erin Gibbs, equity chief investment officer at S&P Investment Advisory Services, one of those offers investors a lot more promise.
"There are a few reasons why I prefer Chevron going forward," said Gibbs, who has more than $16 billion in assets under advisory. "Right now, they have targets to increase their oil production by 20 percent over the next 18 to 20 months—versus Exxon, that has actually just been reducing all of their production targets and looking to only grow by 2 percent over the same period."
Though she sees Exxon Mobil as the more diversified of the two, Gibbs forecasts 65 percent earnings growth for Chevron compared to 42 percent for Exxon Mobil.
With Chevron, you get "a much higher output, much higher growth, and on top of it, you get a much higher dividend yield," Gibbs said. "So all in, Chevron is definitely my favorite."