However, over the past 12months, Shell and BP have underperformed the FTSE 100 by 27% and 15% respectively excluding dividends.
So, here are three reasons why investors should continue to buy Shell and BP despite theirlacklustre performance.
BP and Shell have a reputation for being two of the UKs most trustworthy income stocks. Shell has paid and raised its dividend every year since the Second World War. Similarly, BP was one of the most widely held income stocks by portfolio managers until it cut its dividend following the 2010 Gulf of Mexico disaster.
BP is now working hard to restore its dividend reputation and is set to yield6% this year. The payout will only just be covered by earnings per share this year. Next year the payout cover is set to increase to 1.3x.
Shells dividend yield has recently surged to 6.5%, and the payout is covered one-and-a-half times by earnings per share.
Integrated oil companies like Shell and BP have one huge advantage over their smaller, pure E&P peers. You see, as well as producing oil, Shell and BP both refine and process oil, a business that benefits from a low oil price.
For example, BPs underlying pre-tax replacement cost profit from downstream (refining and processing) activities in the first quarter of 2015 more than doubled to $2.2bn At the same time, pre-tax profits from oil and gas production, or upstream, collapsed to $0.6 billion from $4.4 billion a year earlier.
Shells first quarter refining and marketing profits jumped 68% to $2.6bn. Downstream profits fell 52% to $3.2bn. Shell and FrancesTotalare the worlds largest oil traders, handling enough fuel every day to meet the needs of Japan, India, Germany, France, Italy,Spain, and the Netherlands.
Clearly, higher profits from refining and marketing arms wont completely offset declining upstream income, but they do go some way to cushioning the effect of low oil prices. Further, at a time when many other producers are struggling to make ends meet, upstream operations give Shell and BP a robust and predictable income stream with which to finance deals and pay dividends.
Clean balance sheet
The third reason Shell and BP are great investments is the fiscal prudence they exhibit. Specifically, both Shell and BP have rock solid balance sheets with low levels of gearing and healthy cash balances. Whats more, the two companies are currently in the process of pruning their asset portfolios, to free up cash from underperforming assets.
At the end of the first quarter Shells net gearing, calculated by dividing its net liabilities by stockholders equity, stood at 14%. The deal to buyBG Groupwill push this figure higher, but Shell is planning to sell off $30bn worth of assets over the next few years to fund the transaction. At the end of the first quarter, BP had over $30bn of cash on its balance sheet and a net gearing ratio of 23%.
A high percentage of BPs cash is reserved for the companys legal liabilitiesstemming from the Gulf of Mexico disaster. Although, as the lions share ($18bn) of these liabilities set to be spread out over the next 18 years, BPs cash isnt going to disappear overnight.
Don’t take my word for it!
Overall, BP and Shell have plenty of attractive qualities and would make a great addition to any portfolio.
But don’t just take my word for it.I strongly recommend that you do your own research before making a trading decision — you may come to a different conclusion.
And to help you assess these oil giants, our top analysts have put togetherthis new report entitled,“How YouCould Retire Seriously Rich“.
This is a new report from The Motley Foolthattakes you throughthe seven essential steps you need to take to become a stock market millionaire.
What’s more,thereport fromexplainshow spending just 20 minutes a month could help you create a portfolio that could bring you closer to financial freedomfor life.
Click hereto check out the report–it’s completely free and comeswith nofurther obligation.