Short Sellers Making Opportunistic Moves in Energy Stocks 

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Crude oil traded around $58.56 a barrel early Wednesday, up more than $1.50 in the past week and creeping up toward a recent 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 $3.00 a barrel.

Of the companies we watch, short interest increase on three of six energy stocks during the two-week reporting period ending November 15.

Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) saw short interest rise by 8% to 22.63 million shares which represents about 1.2% of the company’s float. Days to cover remained unchanged at 4. In the two-week short interest period through November 15, the stock’s share price increased by about 5.1%. The stock’s 52-week range is $100.22 to $127.34 and it closed at $117.79 on Tuesday, down about 0.5% for the day.

Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) short interest remained essentially unchanged at 42.1 million shares or 1% of the company’s float. In the two-week short interest period to November 15, the share price added about 2%. The stock’s 52-week range is $64.65 to $83.49 and it closed at $68.74 on Tuesday, down about 0.3%for the day. Days to cover remained at 4.

BP PLC (NYSE: BP) saw a rise of 5% in short interest during the two-week period to November 15. About 0.6% of the total float, or 4.7 million American Depositary Shares, are short and days to cover remained less than 1. The company’s shares traded up by about 3.4% over the two-week period and shares closed Tuesday at $38.12, down by about 1.3% for the day, in a 52-week range of $35.73 to $45.38.

ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP) short interest decreased by 5% in the two weeks to November 15. Some 10.78 million shares are short, representing about 1% of the company’s total float. Days to cover remained at 2 and the stock price increased by about 4.7% during the two-week period. Shares closed Tuesday at $60.11, down about 1.5% for the day, in a 52-week range of $50.13 to $71.01.

Petróleo Brasileiro S.A. (NYSE: PBR), or Petrobras, posted a drop of 19% in short interest during the two-week period. Some 26.67 million ADSes were short as of November 15, less than 1% of the total float. The ADSes closed at $14.76 on Tuesday, down by about 3% for the day, in a 52-week range of $11.89 to $17.90. Shares traded down by nearly 5% in the two-week short interest period, and days to cover remained unchanged at 2.

Occidental Petroleum Corp. (NYSE: OXY) saw short interest soar by 38% to 19.9 million shares. Days to cover remained at 2 and about 2.2% of the company’s shares are short. In the two weeks to November 15, the share price tumbled by about 6.3%. The stock’s 52-week range is $37.60 to $72.43 and shares closed Tuesday at $38.57, down about 3.4% for the day. A looming proxy battle with activist investor Carl Icahn, a strong critic of Oxy’s $37 billion acquisition of Anadarko, is catnip for short sellers.

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