Andy Serwer Commentary:
Street Life by Andy Serwer Column archive
Defending Big Oil and buying some stock
Give energy companies some credit and it you don't like the price of gas ... buy their stock.

NEW YORK (Fortune) - I'd like to speak in defense of oil companies.

It's not a position I generally like to take but here it goes: I'm SO tired of all this whining! I'm talking about gas prices.

First the oil companies scour the freaking globe, going to the most gosh-forsaken dangerous places on earth to find the stuff. Then they pump it. Then they ship the stuff in huge, complicated ships halfway across the world. Then in giant, expensive plants they refine the stuff through amazingly complicated processes and turn in into gasoline. Then they distribute it to rural Nebraska and Vermont and all over the USA. The price is less than a gallon of bottled water, and it's gone up less than inflation, and we take it for granted and we've squandered it with our Suburbans and Tahoes and Navigators.

And now it's gone up a bit and we sound like a bunch of weepy little chipmunks! Yes the oil companies are making TONS of money ... but $3.00 a gallon gas? Deal with it!!!!!!! And even more to the point, buy energy stocks, it's the best revenge!

CONOCOPHILLIPS: Couple of years ago I took a chopper out of southern Louisiana and onto a so-called drill-ship owned by this company. A drill ship uses satellite navigation to stay as still as possible and then actually drills for oil in deep water. Pretty damn amazing (but I guess you head for shore if there's a hurricane!). Again, it just shows the amazing ends that oil companies will go to, to get crude. This company reported profits grew 13 percent to $3.29 billion, which is huge ... though the growth isn't as fast as the growth in the price of oil, which is up 40 percent ($50 to $70) over the past 12 months. Stock (Research) is up from mid $30s to mid $60s over the past two years. P/E is only 7! I'm loving it ... buy to offset money you lose at the pump!

KINDER MORGAN: Talk about revenge! Not only do you make out and beat the energy companies at their own game, but the base of this company is an old Enron outfit! How sweet is that? KMI (Research) has 35,000 of natural gas pipelines in the U.S. Company was founded in 1997 when founders Richard Kinder and William Morgan bought an Enron pipeline unit. Love the fact that CEO Kinder owns 19 percent of the company stock and pays himself a $1 year in salary!

KMI is up from mid $70s to nearly $90. Stock has a P/E of about 18 ... so it's not dirt cheap or undiscovered, but I see more good things ahead.

BP: Now here's an example of why this is NOT a slam dunk business. Profits at this company reported a few days ago, FELL (no, this is not a typo), fell 15 percent. Why? First because it has a 28 percent stake in that mega-Mars platform in the Gulf of Mexico that is STILL offline (Shell owns the balance). Plus it has a joint venture in Russia that has been problematic----extreme cold weather this winter there (remember seeing CNN's Mathew Chance reporting from Moscow a while back?) Stock (Research) is still up smartly over the past 24 months, but more pricey than COP. Why buy this one (or Shell, an even bigger basket case), if you can buy ones that execute! Unless you like green companies, because BP is the biggest tree-hugger of the bunch.

LOOSE CHANGE: Thanks Sean for lettin' us know about this cool Joy Division movie. Did you see UARM, Deep Blue asks? Soarin', and I'm eatin' crow .. .for now! ... Snoop is in trouble in Limeyland? Say it ain't so! Top of page

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