Why Morgan Stanley thinks Total is a better bet than Exxon

|By:, SA News Editor

In a Total-Exxon showdown, Morgan Stanley says Total (TOT +1.4%) is starting to benefit from high investments, translating into stronger growth in operating cash flows than most other big oil companies, and enjoys a strong outlook for operating cash flow combined with plans to reduce capex after this year.

In contrast, Stanley says Exxon Mobil’s (XOM -0.1%) operating cash flow suffers from an upstream portfolio with relatively few startups and weak ramp-ups; with such a weak growth outlook, XOM could decide to add additional projects or go for a large acquisition, creating capex risks.

Meanwhile, Chevron (CVX -0.6%) is one of the firm's top picks, with higher production growth and improving returns in the next five years driving share outperformance.