Short Sellers See Opportunity in Energy Stocks 

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Crude oil traded around $57.09 a barrel early Tuesday, basically flat for the past week and still well 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 increased by about $4 a barrel.

Of the companies we watch, short interest increase on all six energy stocks during the two-week reporting period ending October 31.

Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) saw short interest rise by 3% to 20.9 million shares, which represents about 1% of the company’s float. Days to cover remained unchanged at four. In the two-week short interest period, the stock’s share price increased by less than 1%. The stock’s 52-week trading range is $100.22 to $127.34, and it closed at $120.81 on Monday, down about 0.1% for the day.

Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) short interest rose by 5% to 42.25 million shares, or 1% of the company’s float. In the short interest period to October 31, the share price dropped by about 1.8%. The stock’s 52-week range is $64.65 to $83.49, and it closed at $70.34 on Monday, down about 0.6%for the day. Days to cover remained at four.

BP PLC (NYSE: BP) saw a rise of 37% in short interest during the two-week period. About 0.1% of the total float, or 4.46 million American depositary shares (ADSs), were short, and days to cover remained less than one. The company’s shares traded up by about 1.2% over the two weeks, and shares closed Monday at $39.15, down by about 0.1% for the day, in a 52-week range of $35.73 to $45.38. The company’s CFO would not guarantee a dividend hike by the end of the year in a call with analysts on October 29, and shares plunged nearly 4%.

ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP) short interest increased by 11% in the latter half of October. Some 11.32 million shares were short, representing about 1% of the company’s total float. Days to cover remained at two, and the stock price increased by about 0.5% during the period. Shares closed Monday at $58.91, down about 0.4 for the day, in a 52-week range of $50.13 to $71.01.

Petróleo Brasileiro S.A. (NYSE: PBR), or Petrobras, posted an increase of 22% in short interest during the two-week period. Some 32.9 million ADSs were short as of October 31, about 0.5% of the total float. They closed at $16.00 on Monday, up by about 1% for the day, in a 52-week range of $11.89 to $17.90. ADSs traded up by more than 10% in the two-week short interest period, and days to cover remained unchanged at two.

Occidental Petroleum Corp. (NYSE: OXY) saw short interest rise by 4% to 14.41 million shares. Days to cover remained at two, and about 1.6% of the company’s shares were short. In the two weeks to October 31, the share price rose by about 2.5%. The stock’s 52-week range is $38.30 to $73.64, and shares closed Monday at $38.88, down about 3% for the day.

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