Energy Business

Short Sellers Scored Big on Oil and Gas Stocks

Crude oil traded around $38.00 a barrel early Thursday, up by about $1.30 a barrel over the past two weeks. Doubts about the consequences for a successful reopening of the U.S. economy weighed on crude prices, as did a still-high gasoline inventory. Crude prices continue to rise, but more slowly than they have been.

Of the companies we watch, short interest decreased on four of six energy stocks during the two-week reporting period ending June 15. Share prices fell dramatically during the period for most of these oil and gas majors.

Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) saw short interest fall by 7.4% to 16.4 million shares, which represents about 0.9% of the company’s float. Days to cover rose from one to two. In the two-week short interest period, the stock’s share price fell by about 18.2%. Its 52-week range is $51.60 to $127.00, and it closed at $87.64 on Wednesday, down by about 4.2% for the day.

Exxon Mobil Corp.’s (NYSE: XOM) short interest dipped by 3.0% to 59.1 million shares, or about 1.9% of the company’s float. In the two weeks to June 15, the share price plunged by 30.8%. The stock’s 52-week range is $30.11 to $77.93, and it closed at $44.50 on Wednesday, down by about 4.7% for the day.

BP PLC (NYSE: BP) saw a rise of 13% in short interest during the two-week period. About 0.4% of the total float, or 11.5 million American depositary shares, were short, and days to cover remained at one. The company’s shares plummeted by about 36.4% over the period, and shares closed down about 4.2% Wednesday, at $23.09 in a 52-week range of $15.51 to $42.63.

ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP) short interest fell 6.0% in the two weeks to June 15. Some 11.8 million shares were short, representing about 1.1% of the company’s total float. Days to cover rose from one to two, and the stock price tumbled by about 26.8% during the period. Shares closed Wednesday at $40.99, down about 6.4%, in a 52-week range of $20.84 to $67.13.

Petróleo Brasileiro S.A. (NYSE: PBR), or Petrobras, short interest rose by about 1.7% during the period. Some 43.7 million ADSs were short as of June 15, about 1.2% of the total float. They closed at $8.22 on Wednesday, in a 52-week range of $4.01 to $16.95. Shares plunged by 41.8% in the short interest period, and days to cover remained at two.

Occidental Petroleum Corp. (NYSE: OXY) saw short interest slide by 18.0% to 53.0 million shares. Days to cover remained at two, and about 5.9% of the company’s shares were short. In the two weeks to June 15, the share price plummeted by 60.1%. The stock’s 52-week range is $9.00 to $54.05, and shares closed Wednesday at $18.00, down by about 10% for the day.