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I've wanted to add one of the energy majors for diversification and income for a while now. Thus I found this recent article on the public side of Motley fool by contributor Tyler Crowe extremely helpful and informative.

It is much, much deeper than your average Fool article as Crowe compares BP, Chevron, Eni, Exxon, Shell, and Total in several different categories including margins, returns, cash flow, and valuation. He also summarizes and analyzes each company's short and long term plans. It really is an impressive piece. He begins:

After suffering more than two years of declining or low oil and gas prices, the financial statements of energy companies have been absolutely ravaged. Cash flows have dried up, balance sheets have been ballooning up with debt, and more than a few companies have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Even the once-impregnable dividends of the integrated majors have looked more troubled than they have in more than 30 years.

Needless to say, in a cyclical industry like oil and gas, there are fortunes to be lost and fortunes to be made. The companies that can come out the other end of this major decline could have an immense opportunity to profit as declining investment in the industry could easily bring supply and demand in line once again.

With all of these key facts in mind, investors are likely to benefit from looking closely at the integrated majors. Their size, diversified business models, and propensity to pay a regular dividend in this boom-and-bust industry can make them intriguing prospects. As much as they are alike, though, there are enough subtle differences between them that investors should be aware of before diving in. Let's take a long look at these monolithic energy companies to determine which one is the best investment today.

If you're interested, be sure to read the whole thing at

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