The energy sector is by far the top-performing sector in the S&P 500, up 67% so far this year, while the S&P 500 is down 13%. Leading the way has been a major turnaround for shares of Exxon Mobil (XOM), which closed above a record high at $104.59, up 1.2% yesterday. It’s the first time since 2014 the stock has been that high.
Exxon Mobil’s stock price is up over 64% so far this year, lifted by high oil prices. Just two years ago, the stock was kicked out of the Dow Jones Industrial Average after 92 years in the blue chip index as investors worried about the future of fossil fuels and high debt loads.
If oil prices continue to march higher, shares of Exxon Mobil and the energy sector may follow. Goldman Sachs said earlier this week that it now expects global oil prices to average $140 a barrel between July and September, up from its prior forecast of $125 per barrel.
Earlier this week, Evercore ISI analyst Stephen Richardson urged caution that the oil industry could soon face higher operating costs, rising capital expenditures, taxes, and eventual deflation of gas prices. However, he singled out Exxon Mobil as a good play in the sector, upgrading the stock to “outperform” from “in-line,” and raising his price target to $120 from $88.
"Prices anywhere above $50 per barrel are generally considered pure profit for oil and gas companies. Given that the crude oil futures are pricing a barrel of oil at above $100 for the next several months, investors can expect companies like Exxon Mobil to continue to rake in record profits for the foreseeable future," stated Caleb Silver, Editor-in-Chief of Investopedia.