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August 9, 2017 | ConocoPhillips | COP

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This week’s Stock of the Week is a major player in energy. It has been struggling but is making smart moves that should help it rebound nicely…

Domestic Oil

ConocoPhillips (COP), the largest independent US oil producer, is on track with a reorientation that should put it on firmer footing amid the current depressed oil prices, which are likely to rise just modestly over the next few years.

It recently agreed to sell its Texas shale assets for $305 million—part of a plan to divest under-performing assets and reduce capital expenses substantially. The company significantly cut its dividend after the oil price collapse, but the current dividend of $1.06/share/yr., recently yielding 2.3%, appears secure—and the company seems committed to retaining it by undertaking a conservative, slow-dividend-growth approach.

ConocoPhillips has now sold off all its refining capacity, taking a significant loss last year as it repositioned itself to focus almost entirely on exploration and production. Now it appears poised for more stable growth, with 2016 revenue of $23.7 billion likely to rise to $28.6 billion this year and $28.9 billion in 2018.

Fiscal year: December. Earnings per share: 2018 est./$1.80…2017 est./$0.50…2016/-$2.66.

Roger Hamilton is senior managing director, investments, Manulife Asset Management, and portfolio manager of the $1.9 billion John Hancock Balanced Fund (SVBAX), Boston. JHFunds.com

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Date: August 9, 2017
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