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Elliott Gue knows energy. Since earning his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of London, Elliott has dedicated himself to learning the ins and outs of this dynamic sector, scouring trade magazines, attending industry conferences, touring facilities and meeting with management teams.

Elliott Gue’s knowledge of the energy sector and prescient investment calls prompted the official program of the 2008 G-8 Summit in Tokyo to call him “the world’s leading energy strategist.”

He has also appeared on CNBC and Bloomberg TV and has been quoted in a number of major publications, including Barron’s, Forbes and the Washington Post. Elliott Gue’s expertise and track record of success have also made him a sought-after speaker at MoneyShows and events hosted by the Association of Individual Investors.

Elliott Gue also contributed chapters on developments in global energy markets to two books published by the FT Press, The Silk Road to Riches: How You Can Profit by Investing in Asia’s Newfound Prosperity and Rise of the State: Profitable Investing and Geopolitics in the 21st Century.

Prior to founding the Capitalist Times, Elliott Gue shared his expertise and stock-picking abilities with individual investors in two highly regarded research publications, MLP Profits and The Energy Strategist, as well as long-running financial advisory Personal Finance.

In October 2012, Elliott Gue launched the Energy & Income Advisor, a semimonthly online newsletter that’s dedicated to uncovering the most profitable opportunities in the energy sector, from growth stocks to high-yielding utilities, royalty trusts and master limited partnerships.

The masthead may have changed, but subscribers can expect Elliott Gue to deliver the same high-quality analysis and rational assessment of investment opportunities in the energy patch.

Articles

The Demand Side Beckons

The combination of slowing oil demand growth in China and other key markets and surging output from US shale plays—and their implications for global spare productive capacity—has sent crude prices plummeting.

Although crude-oil prices have caught a bit of a bid over the past few days and oil-field services and upstream names have benefited from a bout of short covering, the near-term outlook suggests that crude-oil prices will remain below the elevated levels that became the norm in recent years.

Meanwhile, any moderation in production volumes associated with anticipated reductions to capital expenditures won’t show up for several quarters, especially with operators focusing development activity in their core acreage and pushing for 15 percent to 20 percent price breaks from service providers.

And with US producers able to sink high-probability new wells within a week, this shadow capacity should keep a lid on oil prices in the intermediate term, assuming OPEC maintains its output levels and no major disruptions occur in the usual hot spots.

Against this backdrop, the demand side beckons. Our favorite hedge against lower crude-oil prices–a name that we added to our Model Portfolio in January 2014–has soared by 41.6 percent since the end of the third quarter.

In this issue, we highlight our top picks in several industries that stand to benefit from extended weakness in crude-oil prices and offer exposure to other company- and industry-specific growth trends.

We also highlight an opportunity for investors to lock in high yields on securities that actually stand to benefit from potential dividend cuts in the upstream space.

These picks will work in concert with our top picks in the energy sector to deliver solid returns during a period of heightened volatility.

RIsk Assessment: US Oil and Gas Producers

When most investors look to profit from the North American energy boom, their thoughts immediately turn to the exploration and production companies and their huge output growth.

However, weaker oil prices mean that this paradigm has shifted; at this stage in the cycle, exploration and production companies will face the challenge of living within their cash flow.

Now more than ever, investors will focus on upstream operators’ balance sheets and rates of return, as opposed to huge production growth.

The Oil Down-Cycle: Lessons from the Past

US oil prices would need to overshoot the levels supported by prevailing supply and demand conditions to prompt producers to idle rigs and reduce capital expenditures dramatically. Weak balance sheets and higher-cost asset bases will compel some operators to scale back.

This supply response in the US and elsewhere will signal that we’re near the bottom of the commodity cycle. The question investors must ask isn’t whether this will happen, but rather how long this process will take to occur.

Game Plan for Lower Oil Prices

Over the past year, we’d taken some steps to reduce the Portfolio’s risk, cashing out of SeaDrill (NYSE: SDRL) last fall and selling fracking sand specialist Hi-Crush Partners LP (NYSE: HCLP) for a roughly 60 percent gain. We also reiterated our Sell call on SeaDrill, a stock we first highlighted in 2007, on several occasions this year.

By design, our Model Portfolios also feature less exposure to oil and gas producers than many energy-focused investment advisories, though we should have lightened up our exposure to riskier, high-yielding names earlier this year.

With only a few exceptions, our Model Portfolio, MLP Portfolio and International Portfolio’s conservative allocations have delivered solid returns and held their value better than most.

This resilience reflects our overweight positions in conservatively run midstream operators—many of which are organized as master limited partnerships (MLP)—that have little direct exposure to fluctuations in oil and other commodity prices.

Our primary hedge against weaker oil prices has delivered a total return of almost 80 percent since we added the stock to the Model Portfolio in January. Equally important, this stock has rallied 44 percent since we highlighted the pick as one of our top demand-side bets in the Oct. 17 issue, Picking the Pockets of Opportunity.

Although we’ve made a lot of right moves, our Portfolios’ aggressive allocations have taken some lumps, making us wish we had booked profits more aggressively at the top.

That being said, it’s not too late to position your portfolios to thrive over what promises to be a challenging six to 18 months.

  • Live Chat with

    Elliott and Roger on Dec. 19, 2014

  • Portfolios & Ratings

    • Model Portfolios

      Balanced portfolios of energy stocks for aggressive and conservative investors.

    • Coverage Universe

      Our take on more than 50 energy-related equities, from upstream to downstream and everything in between.

    • MLP Ratings

      Our assessment of every energy-related master limited partnership.

    • International Coverage Universe

      Roger Conrad’s coverage of more than 70 dividend-paying energy names.

    Experts

    • Roger S. Conrad

      Founder and Chief Analyst: Capitalist Times and Energy & Income Advisor

    • Elliott H. Gue

      Founder and Chief Analyst: Capitalist Times and Energy & Income Advisor

    • Peter Staas

      Managing Editor: Capitalist Times and Energy & Income Advisor