Giants Exxon Mobil (XOM -4.5%) and Chevron (CVX -4.9%) finished significantly lower at the close after each attempted a midday rally, in the wake of earnings misses marked by the continuing crude supply glut and price pressure.
Oil ETFs fared not much better today: USO -3.2%, OIL -3.7%.
Producers have key differences that make for advantages and disadvantages, like Chevron's downstream cushion. Exxon's edge over Chevron, Liam Denning notes: M&A. Its stock is down just 19% over the past year while the sector has tumbled 47%.
As oil's selling point -- big cash distribution -- gets squeezed, Exxon is in relatively good shape. It's still raising its dividend, and it's cut its projected Q3 buybacks to just $500M (vs. zero for Chevron, Shell and BP).
Exxon says it shops worldwide, but the U.S. may be a more natural hunting ground. Possible targets? According to Wolfe Research's Paul Sankey, Pioneer Natural Resources (PXD -2.4%) and Hess (HES -2.2%).