The energy sector rally that began in the last days of 2018 has continued into early January. The long-suffering Alerian MLP Index is 15 percent higher than its post-Christmas Day low. The S&P 500 Energy Index is better by almost 14 percent, as is North American oil benchmark WTI Cushing.
Natural gas by the Henry Hub benchmark is flat after plunging more than one-third last month. But by and large, buyers are pushing up prices of energy stocks, including many of the higher yielding fare that took the biggest hits in late 2018.
Is this a rally with legs? Or will it prove to be just a bounce in a continuing decline?
That’s the big picture question we address in this issue’s Roundtable discussion. As the headline of our previous Energy and Income Advisor indicates, this is not 2014. And there are several encouraging signs that the energy sector has not only bottomed, but will be a strong outperformer in the New Year.
Certainly not every sector stock will prosper. For example, since our last EIA issue, two Endangered Dividends List members have eliminated distributions. And a company third is set to do the same later this month.
With North American oil and gas drilling activity expected to wane in the first half of the year, the door to accessing capital markets on economic terms remains slammed shut in the faces of all but the largest and strongest energy companies. That’s forcing companies up and down the energy value chain to self-fund virtually all capital spending, and in many cases debt refinancing as well.
The good news is four and a half years after oil cracked under $100 a barrel, the survivors of this battered industry are doing the job. Shale focused producers will adjust output with price swings. But the big capital investments continue to move forward, driving sector earnings and dividend paying power.
The only question is when a critical mass of investor dollars will flood back to the energy sector. We believe what we’ve seen so far presages a solid 2019.
Your complete guide to energy investing, from growth stocks to high-yielders.
In October 2012, renowned energy expert Elliott Gue launched the Energy & Income Advisor, a twice-monthly investment advisory that's dedicated to unearthing the most profitable opportunities in the sector, from growth stocks to high-yielding utilities, royalty trusts and master limited partnerships.
Elliott and Roger on Jan. 29, 2019
Balanced portfolios of energy stocks for aggressive and conservative investors.
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Roger Conrad’s coverage of more than 70 dividend-paying energy names.