Shares of Exxon Mobil Corp. climbed 1.5% toward an 8-year high in afternoon trading Friday, boosted by rising oil and gas prices and an upbeat analyst comment. Crude oil futures rose 1.4% in afternoon trading while natural gas futures advanced 0.5%. Analyst Phil Gresh at J.P. Morgan reiterated the overweight rating he’s had on the oil and gas giant since January 2021, and kept his stock price target at $108, saying the company’s “re-rating story still has legs.” Gresh said he believes the stock still has room for increased investor interest following the “de-rating” that took place in the 2020 downturn, in which the stock suffered a record yearly decline of 40.9%, given concerns over a heavy debt burden. “With the company now fully shifted towards a mantra of capital discipline and the balance sheet back to a strong position, [Exxon Mobil] is in much better shape to return more capital back to shareholders, while still pursing attractive growth opportunities at key assets,” Gresh wrote in a note to clients. He believes investors have given the company only partial credit for this change, particularly when compared with peer Chevron Corp. , which Gresh has rated underweight since early-March 2022. Exxon Mobil’s stock, which is headed for the highest close since September 2014, has run up 61.9% year to date, while Chevron shares have hiked up 51.6% and the S&P 500 has dropped 13.5%.

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