With crude oil having closed out the week of April 15 still above $40 per barrel, there is more hope that the worst has been seen in the energy sector. This hope has led investors back into the oil and gas sector for weeks now. In fact, some oil and gas stocks traded so low in the first six weeks of 2016 that they have since risen 30% to 50% — and many have even more than doubled off of their lows.
24/7 Wall St. reviews dozens of analyst upgrades and downgrades each day of the week to find value for our readers. By the end of each week, this generally adds up to hundreds of analyst views. Some of these calls cover stocks to buy, while others cover stocks to sell or to avoid. One interesting take is to view analyst calls by sector. It turns out that there are many analyst calls looking at opportunities in the oil and gas sector.
Several analyst calls in the oil and gas stocks from the week ending April 15, 2016, stood out above and beyond the rest of the pack. Another consideration here is that most Dow and S&P stocks are given implied upside of 8% to 15% when analysts upgrade or initiate coverage with positive ratings.
One word of caution: these should all be considered long-term views rather than mere trading opportunities. Another issue to consider is that if the price of oil heads back down toward $30 (or worse, even lower), then every one of these calls almost certainly will look extremely premature.
Investors also need to keep in mind that $40 oil, and maybe even $50 or higher for many second-tier producers, is still just enough to leave many companies operating in a zombie mode. Recent bankruptcies of Goodrich Petroleum and Energy XXI likely still will be mirrored by more bankruptcies ahead, and there are going to be more layoffs and cost cuts in the energy patch. This price will keep oil as a no-growth sector overall and will continue to generate very lackluster earnings (or worse).
With the verdict still out on how the weekend OPEC meeting in Doha was really seen by investors, there could be some rather large price swings by the time the week of April 18 to April 22 gets going. Those price swings may not be favorable either. Many of these oil stocks have bounced handily off of their lows, and short sellers have exited their bets against major oil stocks.
In a further attempt to balance any euphoria here, there was a key note issued by Morgan Stanley last week. The firm warned its clients that investors might want to be careful about the rally seen in some of the oil patch. They see many of the existing headwinds remaining in place. Rising production and/or a June OPEC disappointment remain as risks, and that was even before considering this weekend’s meeting. Credit Suisse also offered up a generally cautious view on refiners, which are supposed to be less exposed to oil price swings.
Chevron — Megacap!
Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) was featured as one of four top oil and gas stocks to buy this past week in a broader call by Jefferies. The oil giant has committed to keeping and growing its dividend, and in some cases it trades at a modest valuation discount to some of its mega-cap peers. The firm likes that Chevron is pursuing cost-saving initiatives and is looking to maximize its portfolio of projects on the books. Its Permian Basin assets are also viewed as rather strong.
Jefferies has a price target of $110 on Chevron, much higher than the $98.34 consensus analyst target. Chevron shares closed out the prior week at $96.33, and closed at $97.23 on Friday, versus a 52-week trading range of $69.58 to $112.20.
Anadarko Petroleum Corp. (NYSE: APC) was raised to Overweight from Neutral with a $55 price target at JPMorgan on Friday. This was versus a prior $49.46 closing price, and investors felt rather unenthusiastic on the low upside here because shares closed down 1.1% at $48.91 on Friday. Still, the lower price would imply upside of over 12% if JPMorgan’s target is hit.
Anadarko has a consensus price target of $58.50 and a 52-week range of $28.16 to $95.94. Its market cap is $25 billion.