Some Energy Short Sellers Feeling Squeezed

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Crude oil traded around $56.29 a barrel early Wednesday, up more than $2.00 in the past week, but far below a high of $62.90 posted on September 16, the first trading day following the attack on the Saudi oil processing plants. Over the past month, the price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude for immediate delivery has risen by about $0.55 a barrel.

Of the companies we watch, short interest fell on three of six energy stocks during the two-week reporting period ending September 13, the day before the attack on the Saudi facilities.

Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) saw short interest rise by 14% to 20.14 million shares, which represents about 1% of the company’s float. Days to cover rose from three to four. In the two-week short interest period, the stock’s share price increased by 3.7%. The stock’s 52-week range is $100.22 to $127.60, and it closed at $123.74 on Tuesday, down about 0.9% for the day.

Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) short interest rose by 2% to 37.9 million shares, or 0.9% of the company’s float. In the two weeks to September 13, the share price rose by about 6.1%. The stock’s 52-week range is $64.65 to $86.89, and it closed at $71.14 on Tuesday, down about 0.5% for the day. Days to cover remained at four.

BP PLC (NYSE: BP) saw a drop of 40% in short interest during the first half of September. Less than 1% of the total float, or 5.02 million American depositary shares, were short and days to cover remained around one. The company’s shares traded up by about 2.8% over the period and closed Tuesday at $38.13, down by about 1.4% for the day, in a 52-week range of $35.73 to $47.16.

ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP) short interest rose by 13% in the two weeks. Some 10.41 million shares were short, representing about 0.9% of the company’s total float. Days to cover remained at two, and the stock price rose by about 10.7% during the period. Shares closed Tuesday at $59.30, down about 1.5% for the day, in a 52-week range of $50.13 to $80.24.

Petróleo Brasileiro S.A. (NYSE: PBR), or Petrobras, posted a decrease of 26% in short interest during the period. Some 23.87 million American depositary shares were short as of September 13, about 0.6% of the total float. Petrobras closed at $14.40 on Tuesday, down by about 1.1% for the day, in a 52-week range of $11.44 to $17.90. It traded up 8.6% in the short interest period, and days to cover remained unchanged at about two.

Occidental Petroleum Corp.’s (NYSE: OXY) saw short interest slide by 1% to 14.41 million shares. Days to cover remained at two, and about 2.4% of the company’s shares were short. In the two weeks to September 13, the share price rose by about 5.5%. The stock’s 52-week range is $41.83 to $83.35, and shares closed Tuesday at $45.47, down less than 0.1% for the day.


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