Energy Business

Short Sellers Raise Bets on Falling Oil Stock Prices

Crude oil traded around $53.14 a barrel early Monday, down about $5 in the past week and about $3 short of a 52-week low posted last June. Over the past month, the price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude for immediate delivery has tumbled by more than $8 a barrel.

Of the companies we watch, short interest increased on four of six energy stocks during the two-week reporting period ending January 15. Global concerns related to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak first revealed on January 7 have weighed heavily on oil stocks.

Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) saw short interest decrease by 2% to 21.11 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 dropped by about 3.6%. Its 52-week range is $109.98 to $127.34, and it closed at $110.39 on Monday, down about 1.3% for the day. The 52-week low was posted Monday.

Exxon Mobil Corp.’s (NYSE: XOM) short interest rose by 2% to 39.58 million shares, or 0.9% of the company’s float. In the two weeks to January 15, the share price fell by about 1%. The stock’s 52-week range is $64.70 to $83.49, and it closed at $64.74 on Monday, down about 2.4% for the day. Days to cover remained at three. The 52-week low was posted Monday.

BP PLC (NYSE: BP) saw a drop of 22% in short interest during the first two weeks of January. About 0.1% of the total float, or 3.25 million American depositary shares (ADSs), were short, and days to cover remained less than one. The company’s shares traded up by about 2.6% over the period, and shares closed Monday at $37.44, down by about 1.8% for the day, in a 52-week range of $35.73 to $45.38.

ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP) short interest increased by 7% in the first half of January. Some 12.18 million shares were short, representing about 1% of the company’s total float. Days to cover remained at two, and the stock price remained essentially flat during the two-week period. Shares closed Monday at $61.04, down about 2.5% for the day, in a 52-week range of $50.13 to $71.01.

Petróleo Brasileiro S.A. (NYSE: PBR), or Petrobras, posted a jump of 30% in short interest during the two-week period. Some 23.24 million ADSs were short as of January 15, less than 1% of the total float. Petrobras closed at $14.21 on Monday, down by about 3.8% for the day, in a 52-week range of $12.68 to $17.90. Shares traded down by around 6.7% in the short interest period, and days to cover remained at one.

Occidental Petroleum Corp. (NYSE: OXY) saw short interest soar by 31% to 27.92 million shares. Days to cover rose from two to three, and about 3.1% of the company’s shares were short. In the two weeks of the period, the share price increased by about 14.7%. The stock’s 52-week range is $37.25 to $68.83, and shares closed Monday at $41.24, down by about 1% for the day.