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Marketplace Morning Report

Big Oil cuts back, but not on dividends

Stan Alcorn Feb 2, 2015
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Profits at ExxonMobil are down this quarter, 21% below a year ago.

Like the other big oil companies, ExxonMobil has been hurt by falling oil prices, and has been cutting jobs and investment as a result. But neither ExxonMobil, nor the other Big Oil firms like Shell and BP have cut back on dividends. 

Josh Peters, director of equity-income strategy and editor of Morningstar’s Dividend Investor newsletter, says “dividend investors” aren’t just retirees, but a variety of investors who manage risk by buying stocks that provide a regular income, not just growth.

Brian Youngberg, senior energy analyst at Edward Jones, says dividends are the only reason to invest in the big oil companies right now. 

Douglas Skinner, professor of accounting at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business,  says once companies start paying a dividend, they’re unlikely to reverse themselves, because investors not only depend on them but see them as a signal of stability.

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