Despite Earnings Miss, Exxon Still a ‘Buy’: Analyst

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Exxon Mobil reported lower-than-expected quarterly earningson Thursday, but one analyst said the oil company is still a “buy,” despite low natural gas prices.

“This is a long-term ‘buy’-rated stock for us,” said Faisel Khan, senior natural gas and utility analyst at Citigroup. “They are one of the most disciplined companies in the energy sector.”

Khan has a $97 price target on Exxon’s stock. He added that the company is generating “tremendous” cash flow, with a 2.7 percent dividend yield and a plan to buy back $20 billion of its stock over the next 12 months.

“It’s very difficult to find that sort of cash flow yield and that sort of return of cash flow to shareholders over a long period of time,” he told CNBC’s“Squawk on the Street.”

The company missed earnings’ forecasts on Thursday, as its oil and gas output fell 5.6 percent and its chemical business lagged.

The sector’s earnings have reflected the struggles stemming from weaker global oil prices. Exxon, which is the nation’s largest producer of natural gas, has also been hurt by low U.S. natural gas prices.

Khan said Citigroup’s top picks are in the refining sector.

“We’re bulls on refining for a number of different reasons — the first being that the U.S. has become a net exporter of refined product,” he said.

He added that refiners have been giving back a tremendous amount of cash flow back to shareholders in the form of special dividends and share repurchases.

—By’s Katie Little

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