Good year seen for large US oil firms, analyst says

Fundamentals look strong for US-based, integrated oil and gas companies at the start of 2005, although the firms are unlikely to achieve the record earnings and refining margins of 2004."The likelihood of 2005 being a déjà vu experience is low unless world GDP [gross domestic product] growth remains on track, and OECD [Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development] and other nations get comfortable with the idea of a low US dollar," said Merrill Lynch & Co. analyst John Herrlin of New York.In a Jan. 4 research note, Herrlin estimated the six integrated companies that he covers will generate $32 billion in free cash flow in 2005, compared with an estimated $38 billion in ...

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