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<<Jack - who is obviously trying to learn valuation techniques ;-) >>

Jack -- you have a very legitimate inquiry. However, let me give you my opinion from my own experience of buying Exxon stock every month for the last 31 years, and re-investing the dividends back into more purchases.

Historically, friends of mine who all work for xom like me, but did not have the discipline of buying xom stock every month, have consistently missed the xom boat big time. Why is this so? Because every time you look at xom, most people feel its is "fully valued" .... I have heard this argument over and over again. The only time xom has been undervalued has been the day of a big crash.... like in 1987, and right after Sept 11 ... and right now, the stock is depressed because the expectations are for lower crude prices ... and there is also merit for that view.

For those who have not followed the company closely for the last 30 years, don't know what kind of company xom is. It is a very disciplined company when it comes for investments. It generates significantly more cash flow than it does earnings, simply on account of the depletion allowance. So while xom had 17 billion $ in earnings last year, it generted close to 26 billion in cash .... and it is only investing about 12 to 13 billion in capital expeditures. The excess cash it used to buy back its own stock.

This has been a strategy has used for the last 20 years, and have provided stellar returns for shareholders ... about 17% when you count dividend re-investment plus appreciation.

Surely this past year or so, it has not done as well as in the past. But neither has the market.

The key question for you to ask is even more fundamental .... do you beleive that in a year or two from now, we are going to be out of this mess. Do you see a world where the fight against terrorism is being won? That people are more confident in the future? That the move to freer and freer markets will continue, and thus countries like China and India, which have a combined population of over 2 billion people are going to continue to grow and consume energy? .... That the U.S. will continue with its strong productivity growth of the past? ...

If you believe all these things, then being in the market, and certainly being invested in some xom stock, is the right answer.

Conversely, if you think the world is going to go to rat shit, and that we are going to stay in permanent recession, then don't even bother putting a single penny in the stock market, and go for treasury securities.

Merry Christmas

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