Chevron rallies ahead of earnings but shares still look slick

When energy giant Chevron (CVX) reports earnings Friday, they'll probably look a lot like fellow Dow component Exxon Mobil's (XOM) results Thursday. Earnings per share are expected to plunge more than 60 percent as the global recession took its toll on prices and demand.

It's never ideal to mess around with stocks during earnings season -- Chevron popped about three percent Thursday -- but we're fairly bullish on big integrated oil and gas companies these days. The main reason is pretty obvious: Oil is back at about 80 bucks a barrel and will likely go higher as the global economy improves. (Let's face it: Until we come up with a viable alternative, the energy companies have us by the throat.)