The Day Exxon Mobil Became a T-Bill
Whether it's the attacks from President Obama on Big Oil and its excessive profits, or the global warming lobby, it's tough for the biggest of the Big Oil companies to find any love among its gas guzzling public.
The stock market is supposed to be a different story, though. Sadly, it isn't.
In fact, this latest quarterly report will go down as the earnings day on which Exxon Mobil became no better and no more sexy than a treasury bill as far as the market is concerned.
This should not be a surprise to anyone. In fact, in our earnings preview of Big Oil, TheStreet made several points about the malaise of the Big Oil stocks that have played out very near to plan:
Every single one of those themes played out around Exxon Mobil's quarter this week, and was playing out again on Friday in Chevron's(CVX) lackluster report. It's not because we are geniuses that we got it right, but because Big Oil earnings have been telling more or less the same story for a few years now, and Exxon Mobil, in particular, is the poster child for the lack of growth and a lack of investor excitement that contradicts the amount of attention and headlines given to the global integrated oil sector.
In a new book by New Yorker writer Steve Coll, Private Empire , the story of Exxon Mobil is told as a unique example of a company that has the influence of a sovereign nation. Coll was onto something: What this week's Exxon Mobil earnings show, at least as far as the market view of the company, is that it's best comparison is a treasury bill. If so, it makes a lot of sense that the best comparison for Exxon Mobil is a sovereign nation issuing "flight to safety" debt for investors.