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Feature Article

In Focus

The challenging energy market has taken its toll on our Focus List, with our poorly timed picks from the upstream segment and oil-field services absorbing the hardest hits.

Our lesson from these missteps: We need to remain disciplined and adhere to our own advice about trading these cyclical industries more adeptly, buying when oversold and paring exposure when valuations and sentiment reach the top of their range. These tactical errors are inexcusable and particularly grating when our skepticism toward oil prices at the outset of the year was spot-on.

Upstream Overview: Thoughts on Q2 Results

Within the upstream space, we continue to focus on names with low costs, solid balance sheets, high-quality acreage in the STACK and Permian Basin, and the flexibility to monetize noncore assets or retain cash flow through captive midstream MLPs.

Although our outlook for oil prices and the US energy patch favors an overweight position in core midstream holdings, nimble investors can generate alpha in upstream names by buying when oil prices retreat to the low end of their range and taking some profits off the table when they recover. Timing and stock selection—easier said than done with shorter cycle times—will be critical to producing differentiated returns. Adhering to our Dream Prices can help in this regard.

Oil: An Out-of-Consensus Outlook

After OPEC and other oil-producing countries announced an “historic” production cut in fall 2016, our out-of-consensus outlook called for the recovery in US oil output to surprise to the upside and drag prices lower. This forecast has played out thus far and has become the consensus view. We lean against the crowd once more and explain why oil prices could recover to $50 per barrel or more later this year.

An International View

After updating our commentary and ratings for the more than 80 stocks in our International Coverage Universe, we continue to favor midstream names that offer exposure to volumetric growth stories and our top bets on renewable energy. All offer above-average yields that should juice investors’ total returns.

Upstream Strategy

Although our outlook for oil prices and the US energy patch favors an overweight position in core midstream holdings, nimble investors can generate alpha in upstream names by buying when oil prices retreat to the low end of their range and taking some profits off the table when they recover. Timing these moves is easier said than done. We highlight our favorite upstream stocks and dream prices to help instill discipline on the buyside.

Trends Favor Midstream

In this environment, we prefer midstream names that offer the best leverage to volumetric growth stories and have the balance sheet strength to pursue joint ventures with cash-strapped rivals. Not only do these MLPs pay generous yields that can improve your total return during periods of volatility, but the most recent down-cycle also prompted many midstream operators to take the necessary steps to put themselves on a more sustainable path by cutting their distributions and paying down debt. We highlight our favorites and dream prices for period of heightened volatility.

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    Elliott and Roger on May. 31, 2018

  • 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