A view of the Exxon Mobil Refinery in Baytown, Texas.
Jessica Rinaldi | Reuters
Exxon’s shares fell more than 5% on Friday thereafter The Wall Street Journal reported that the Securities and Exchange Commission has opened an investigation into the oil giant into the valuation of a key asset in the oil-rich Permian Basin.
The whistleblower complaint filed by an employee alleged that Exxon had pressured employees to make inaccurate forecasts, including the rate at which wells could go online, the Journal said. reviewing a copy of the complaint.
The report follows a difficult year for Exxon and the broader oil and gas industry. In December, Exxon announced it would write down the value of its assets by up to $ 20 billion in the fourth quarter.
With the pandemic that devastated oil prices in 2020, Exxon pursued an aggressive strategy to cut costs, including cutting its workforce.
Wall Street analysts believe some of these initiatives will ultimately pay off and have become bullish on the stock of late.
Barclays upgraded the stock to an overweight rating on Thursday. “A perfect storm of more constructive macroeconomic outlook and structural investment / cost repositioning provides a solid stepping stone to significantly improved financial metrics that are not to be ignored.”
JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley each upgraded the stock to a purchase-equivalent rating earlier this week.
Exxon’s shares are up 15% since the start of the year but are down more than 30% over the past year.
Exxon did not immediately return a request for comment.