Short Sellers Pile Into Energy Stocks

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Crude oil traded around $53.85 a barrel early Monday, down about $2.85 in the past two weeks. Over the past month, the price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude for immediate delivery has dipped by about $5.70 a barrel.

Of the energy companies we watch, short interest rose on all six during the two-week reporting period ending July 31. No shocker there, as crude prices continue to sink on uncertainty about the global economy.

Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) saw short interest rise by 11% to 20.48 million shares, which represents about 1% of the company’s float. Days to cover remained unchanged at three. In the two-week short interest period, the stock’s share price decreased by about 1%. The stock’s 52-week trading range is $100.22 to $127.60, and it closed at $122.42 on Friday, down about 0.7% for the day.

Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) short interest rose by 6% to 37.7 million shares, or 0.9% of the company’s float. In the two weeks to July 31, the share price decreased by about 2.4%. The stock’s 52-week range is $64.65 to $87.36, and it closed at $70.84 on Friday, down more than 2% for the day. Days to cover rose from three to four.

BP PLC (NYSE: BP) saw an increase of 40% in short interest during the two-week period. Less than 0.5% of the total float, or 3.18 million American depositary shares, were short, and days to cover remained less than one. The company’s shares traded down by about 3.7% over the period, and they closed Friday at $36.81, down by about 1% for the day, in a 52-week range of $36.28 to $47.16.

ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP) short interest rose by 24% in the latter half of July. Some 9.24 million shares were short, representing about 0.8% of the company’s total float. Days to cover rose from one to two, and the stock price tumbled by about 5.1% during the short interest period. Shares closed Friday at $54.01, down nearly 2% for the day, in a 52-week range of $52.30 to $80.24.

Petróleo Brasileiro S.A. (NYSE: PBR), or Petrobras, posted an increase of 1% in short interest during the period. Some 26.81 million shares were short as of July 31, about 0.7% of the total float. The ADSs closed at $14.51 on Friday, down by about 0.8% for the day, in a 52-week range of $10.16 to $17.90. Shares traded down by about 8.4% in the short interest period, and days to cover remained unchanged at about two.

Occidental Petroleum Corp.’s (NYSE: OXY) short interest rose by 9% to 51.2 million shares. Days to cover rose from four to five, and about 6.8% of the company’s shares were short. In the two weeks to July 31, the share price fell by about 1.3%. The stock’s 52-week range is $44.88 to $83.35, and shares closed Friday at $47.13, flat for the day. The company’s $38 billion acquisition of Anadarko was completed last Thursday.

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