While we may enjoy lower prices at the pump, the recent plummet in crude prices has not been cheered by oil-related companies. This morning, Lehman Brothers cut Exxon Mobil to equal-weight from overweight.
The brokerage noted that XOM seems to have largely regained its well-deserved premium rating following significant outperformance in 2006. However, Lehman now sees higher upside potential elsewhere in the oil sector.
In a note to clients, the brokerage firm told clients that strong near-term production growth rate is now built in to XOM's price. Furthermore, Lehman Brothers noted that it expects XOM's growth rate will slow markedly from its recent pace, forecasting oil and gas production to rise by 3.2 percent in 2007 compared to 2006's jump of six percent.
The good news is that the dual support of the 72 level and the equity's 20-week moving average could help rein in losses in today's trading.
However, 77 percent of the analysts following XOM rate it a buy or better. Should any of Lehman's brethren follow suit and issue downgrades, the equity could severely test this potential support.