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  • Roger S. Conrad

Whither the Inflection?

By Elliott H. Gue on Mar. 27, 2018

Despite recent volatility in the broader market, the S&P 500 Energy Index managed to eke out a slight gain in March—an encouraging sign of relative strength. Nevertheless, the sector is down 6.8 percent on the year after traders took advantage of the sharp rally from mid-December to the end of January to sell the rip.

With energy stocks generally trading at undemanding multiples, the big question centers on what catalysts might prompt generalists and value-focused investors to allocate more capital to the sector on a sustainable basis. The answer requires a consideration of the factors keeping investors on the sideline.

Energy stocks appear to be suffering from a case of déjà vu, having burned generalist portfolio managers too many times during the down-cycle. Stable oil prices and mounting evidence of a balanced global oil market will be critical to shifting investors’ perception of the group, though this process will take time.

Commodity prices have remained supportive this year, with West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil averaging more than $62 per barrel, compared with $51 per barrel in 2017.

Against this backdrop, the Bloomberg consensus revenue estimate for energy stocks in the S&P 500 has increased by a median of 4.1 percent over the past three months, one of the largest positive revisions and above the 0.9 percent bump for the overall index.

But higher prices and higher sales estimates haven’t been enough to lure investors back to the energy sector, reflecting all the false dawns that have occurred in the oil market since 2014.

When will the market come around to our view on the oil market and grow comfortable with the sustainability of current oil prices? Therein lies the question. Sticking with the names on our Focus List should ensure that you’re well-positioned for when sentiment turns.

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

    • Roger S. Conrad

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