ConocoPhillips (COP) is an “upstream” energy company, meaning it’s involved in the exploration and production of oil and natural gas.
The company, which spun off its refining operations via Phillips 66 (PSX) in May 2012, is hip-deep in the exploration of the Bakken Shale, Permian Basin and Eagle Ford oil fields in North America — all of which are expected to bring the U.S. a little closer to energy independence well into the future.
COP also has spun off underperforming or non-core assets, returning the cash back to shareholders in the form of stock repurchases. Also, ConocoPhillips was able to come up with $1 billion in free cash flow last year — after spending just more than $14 billion in capital expenditures. Add in 12 consecutive dividend increases and uninterrupted payments since 1934, and you have another dependable stock in a thriving industry.