Energy Business

Short Sellers Split on Direction for Energy Stocks 

Crude oil traded around $58.85 a barrel early Wednesday, up about $0.40 in the past week but still well short of 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 $2.00 a barrel.

Of the companies we watch, short interest increased on three of six energy stocks during the two-week reporting period ending November 29.

Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) saw short interest drop by 11% to 20.13 million shares, which represents about 1.1% of the company’s float. Days to cover remained unchanged at four. In the two-week short interest period, the stock’s share price decreased by about 2.5%. Its 52-week range is $100.22 to $127.34, and it closed at $117.89 on Tuesday, up about 0.5% for the day. Chevron announced late Tuesday that it plans to write down as much as $11 billion in slumping natural gas assets. Shares traded down about 0.8% in Wednesday’s premarket session.

Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) short interest fell by 7% to 39.26 million shares, or 0.9% of the company’s float. In the two weeks to November 29, the share price slipped by about 1%. The stock’s 52-week range is $64.65 to $83.49, and it closed at $69.06 on Tuesday, down about 0.9% for the day. Days to cover fell from four to three.

BP PLC (NYSE: BP) saw a rise of 20% in short interest during the period. About 0.2% of the total float, or 5.66 million American depositary shares, were short, and days to cover remained less than one. The company’s shares traded down by about 4.6% over the two weeks, and shares closed Tuesday at $37.01, down by about 0.2% for the day, in a 52-week range of $35.73 to $45.38.

ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP) short interest increased by 11% in the latter half of November. Some 11.92 million shares were short, representing about 1.1% of the company’s total float. Days to cover remained at two, and the stock price increased by about 6.6% during the period. Shares closed Tuesday at $61.76, down about 0.1% for the day, in a 52-week range of $50.13 to $71.01.

Petróleo Brasileiro S.A. (NYSE: PBR) posted a drop of 24% in short interest during the two-week period. Some 20.29 million ADSs were short as of November 29, less than 1% of the total float. Petrobras closed at $15.59 on Tuesday, up by about 0.2% for the day, in a 52-week range of $11.89 to $17.90. The stock traded down by around 3% in the short interest period, and days to cover fell from two to one.

Occidental Petroleum Corp. (NYSE: OXY) saw short interest rise by 9% to 21.69 million shares. Days to cover remained at two, and about 2.4% of the company’s shares were short. In the final two weeks of November, the share price dipped by about 0.7%. The stock’s 52-week range is $37.25 to $68.83, and shares closed Tuesday at $37.57, up about 0.6% for the day after posting the new 52-week low.