Crude oil traded around $33.50 a barrel early Wednesday, down by about $14 in the past week after posting a new 52-week low of $27.34 Monday. The failure of Saudi Arabia and Russia to agree on further production led the Saudis to launch a price war that has dropped crude prices to multidecade lows.
Of the companies we watch, short interest increased on four of six energy stocks during the two-week reporting period ending February 28. Global concerns related to the economic impact of the coronavirus epidemic have hit oil prices hard, and the price war is only making a bad situation worse. Annual lows for all these companies were posted on Monday.
Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) saw short interest tumble by more than 21% to 16.67 million shares, which represents about 0.9% of the company’s float. Days to cover fell from three to two. In the two-week short interest period, the stock’s share price fell by about 15.9%. Its 52-week range is $80.00 to $127.34, and it closed at $84.98 on Tuesday, up by about 5.3% for the day.
Exxon Mobil Corp.’s (NYSE: XOM) short interest rose by 13.9% to 44.78 million shares, or about 1.1% of the company’s float. In the two weeks to February 28, the share price fell by about 16.1%. The stock’s 52-week range is $40.80 to $83.49, and it closed at $43.41 on Tuesday, up by about 3.7%for the day. Days to cover remained at two.
BP PLC (NYSE: BP) saw an increase of 13.7% in short interest during the period. About 0.2% of the total float, or 7.16 million American depositary shares (ADSs), were short, and days to cover remained less than one. The company’s shares traded down by 13.3% over the two weeks, and shares closed Tuesday at $26.79, up by nearly 6% for the day, in a 52-week range of $24.20 to $45.38.
ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP) short interest tumbled by 21% in the latter half of February. Some 10.4 million shares were short, representing about 1% of the company’s total float. Days to cover remained at two, and the stock price dropped by 17.9% during the period. Shares closed Tuesday at $34.88, up by about 2.4% for the day, in a 52-week range of $32.00 to $69.60.
Petróleo Brasileiro S.A. (NYSE: PBR), or Petrobras, short interest soared by 61.4% during the period. Some 26.7 million ADSs were short as of February 28, less than 1% of the total float. They closed at $8.01 on Tuesday, up more than 10% for the day, in a 52-week range of $7.04 to $17.90. Shares traded down by around 18.3% in the two-week short interest period, and days to cover remained at one.
Occidental Petroleum Corp. (NYSE: OXY) saw short interest rise by about 2.4% to 24.21 million shares. Days to cover remained at two, and about 2.7% of the company’s shares were short. In the two weeks to February 28, the share price rose by more than 22%. The stock’s 52-week range is $12.04 to $68.83, and shares closed Tuesday at $14.34, down by nearly 15% for the day. The company on Tuesday announced a dividend cut, less capex spending, and other unspecified measures to reduce costs.
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