As Biden Win Meets COVID-19 Vaccine, HSBC Picks Its Top Oil Giants

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With a Joe Biden victory now being factored in for the presidential election, it is important to consider what policy changes that may bring. The reality is that factoring in stock prices around policies is looking in a vacuum without considering the global ramifications and unexpected things that come up. Still, that is what happens.

The oil sector was supposed to be a big winner under President Trump, and alternative energy is expected to be the big winner under a President Biden. But guess what happened to the price of oil and to oil stocks over the last four years. It was ugly.

HSBC has listed its top oil and gas stock picks, with a view favoring the European stocks. Some of these are further down the path to including alternative and renewable energy in their views than their U.S. counterparts.

While many of the anticipated changes could be expected from the political landscape, the big driver on Monday is the Pfizer/BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine news. Efficacy of better than 90% would certainly lead many people to believe that a return to normality in the global economy will translate to higher global oil demand.

Royal Dutch Shell PLC (NYSE: RDS-A) was last seen up 14% at $30.50 in New York trading, after HSBC raised its rating to Buy from Hold. The firm called out Shell as having stronger cash flow projections and better dividend per share forecasts than most in the group. This was cited as an “improved clarity on its capital framework” and its “path to higher cash distributions.”

BP PLC (NYSE: BP) was reiterated as Buy at HSBC. It was up 15% at $18.10 on Monday morning in New York trading, in a 52-week range of $14.74 to $40.08. Remember that BP was the one company that had maintained forever not wanting to cut its dividend, but earlier this year that super-high dividend basically was cut in half.

Total S.E. (NYSE: TOT) also saw a 15% surge in it New York trading to $37.55, after HSBC reiterated its Buy rating. The 52-week trading range is $22.13 to $56.91.

Equinor ASA (NYSE: EQNR) of Norway and Eni SpA (NYSE: E) of Italy were both maintained with Hold ratings at HSBC.

Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) and Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) were both maintained as Hold as well, but their shares were also higher. Chevron was up 13% at $80.60 Monday morning, and Exxon was up 11.5% at $36.50 a share.

Big industry changes due to political regime changes often come with opposite directions over how they might really turn out for metrics within the industry. Whether that is the case here depends on many things that have not yet come to pass. On that note, higher global oil demand due to a very effective COVID-19 vaccine probably would overcome whatever policies U.S. politicians make about domestic drilling.

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