Buy Exxon Mobil because of its ‘substantial dividend growth’: RBC

The recent decline in Exxon Mobil shares is a great buying opportunity, according to one Wall Street firm.

RBC Capital Markets raised its rating to outperform from sector perform for Exxon Mobil shares, citing its strong capital returns including share buybacks and dividends.

“A combination of disappointing results and the acceleration of its investment plans has led Exxon to underperform peers significantly recently,” analyst Biraj Borkhataria wrote in a note to clients Wednesday. “From now to 2025 we see the potential for substantial dividend growth alongside superior returns, both of which appear underappreciated to us.”

The company’s stock rose 1 percent in Wednesday’s premarket session after the report. Exxon Mobil shares declined 6.2 percent this year through Tuesday versus the S&P 500’s 0.6 percent gain.

Borkhataria raised his price target to $100 from $90 for Exxon Mobil shares, representing 27.5 percent upside to Tuesday’s close.

Exxon’s annual meeting is Wednesday.

The analyst noted the company’s higher capital expenditures investment guidance that was 10 percent to 15 percent above Wall Street expectations for the next three years.

Exxon’s “project queue warrants investment, and should lead to superior returns,” he said. “We see Exxon’s future opportunity set as one of the most attractive in the sector, and expect it to start bearing fruit from 2019.”

Borkhataria predicts the company will raise its dividend by 4 percent in 2019 and then 5 percent per year starting in 2020. He also forecasts Exxon’s share buybacks will rise “materially” after 2020.

The company has a current dividend yield of 4.2 percent, according to FactSet.

“ExxonMobil has historically been one of the most successful super-majors at investing through the business cycle and taking advantage of downturns by lowering its cost structure and high-grading its asset base,” he said.

— CNBC’s Michael Bloom contributed to this story.

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