Buy Total (TOT)

05/28/2010 3:50 pm EST

Focus: STOCKS

Jim Jubak

Founder and Editor, JubakPicks.com

  I’m sure this one is going to be popular. (Yeah, right.)

Today, May 28, I’m adding Total (TOT) to the Jubak Dividend Income portfolio.

 That’s right a European (gasp) oil (shudder) stock.

 Total’s shares have dropped from $65 at the beginning of 2010 to $45 now. That’s driven the yield up to 6.5%, considerably above the yields for U.S.-based oil companies such as Chevron (CVX) at 3.8%.

The company increased production in the first quarter by 6% and while its refinery business is running way below capacity (and it being France Total faces intense political pressure not to close any refineries), it’s chemical unit has enjoyed the same cost-savings and demand recovery that have buoyed stocks such as du Pont (DD).

 With any oil company these days an income investor has to ask how safe is the dividend if oil prices continue to fall or just stay at current depressed levels. Total finished the first quarter with a very modest 34% debt to equity ratio and with $17 billion in cash and cash equivalents on its balance sheet. The dividend looks secure to me.

Full disclosure: I don’t own shares of any stock mentioned in this post.

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