We are almost at the last leg of 2016, a year that was marked by unprecedented energy market volatility.
The Story So Far
The year started on a disappointing note with crude prices falling to a 12-year low of $26.21 in Feb as investors worried about the oversupplied market. The commodity’s collapse threatened the industry’s creditworthiness by hurting cash flows, drying up liquidity and pummeling producer’s profit margins.
However, indications that supply was easing helped oil prices rebound to $50/barrel mark in early Jun. The surge was driven by outages in Nigeria, Libya, Venezuela and Canada – countries that hold some of the world’s major sources of crude. The upward pressure in oil prices also reflected the U.S. Energy Department's inventory releases that showed crude stockpile builds turning into draws. Things were further helped by a continued decline in U.S. crude production.
With factors like Canadian wildfires, Nigerian outages/disruptions, production issues in Venezuela and a strike by Kuwaiti oil workers vanishing from the market, oil slipped back under $40 in the first week of Aug. A glut of refined products also kept the commodity under pressure.
The volatility in oil prices continued with the benchmark touching the $50 threshold again last week. In fact, crude has managed to stay above the psychologically important mark since then, buoyed by government figures that continue to show large drawdowns, while investors bet on commitments by OPEC and non-OPEC players to slash production targets.
Energy Sector Performance
Despite the instability, the energy sector continued to be an outperformer. The ‘The Energy Select Sector SPDR’ has grown 17.04% year-to-date. Analysts attribute the strong performance to the buzz surrounding the OPEC announcement of a plan to cut output. All the sector behemoths right from Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM - Analyst Report) , Chevron Corp. (CVX - Analyst Report) , Anadarko Petroleum Corp. (APC - Analyst Report) to Royal Dutch Shell plc (RDS.A - Analyst Report) have been making giant strides, thereby giving a boost to the overall energy sector.
However, record high inventories and tepid demand growth could still push the commodity to the depths of multiyear lows. But signs are emerging that oil prices are likely to stabilize and gradually pick up. Not only is global demand expanding but energy companies have significantly scaled back on plans to explore for and bring out more oil. This should lead to lower future production and supply/demand rebalancing.
Energy Stocks Poised for Further Growth
With the help of the Zacks Stock Screener, we have zeroed-in on five stocks that sport a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) or 2 (Buy), and have witnessed a year-to-date price change of more than 100%. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.
Ultra Petroleum Corp. (UPLMQ - Analyst Report) : Houston, Texas-based Ultra Petroleum is an independent energy firm engaged in the acquisition, development, exploration and production of oil and gas properties. The company’s operations are focused on the Green River Basin of southwest Wyoming, mainly covering the Pinedale and the Jonah fields.
Zacks Rank: #1
% Price Change (YTD): 110.40%
Resolute Energy Corp. (REN - Snapshot Report) : Denver, CO-based Resolute Energy is an independent oil and gas finder in the U.S. with primary focus on its core Utah and Wyoming properties.
Zacks Rank: #2
% Price Change (YTD): 563.22%
CONSOL Energy Inc. (CNX - Analyst Report) : CONSOL Energy, based in Canonsburg, PA, is a multi-fuel energy producer and an energy services provider, primarily catering to the U.S. power producers. The company principally operates two business divisions: Coal mining and oil and gas exploration and production.
Zacks Rank: #2
% Price Change (YTD): 149.62%
Encana Corp. (ECA - Analyst Report) : Encana, based in Calgary, Alberta, is a focused pure-play natural gas exploration and production company.
Zacks Rank: #2
% Price Change (YTD): 115.91%
Pioneer Energy Services Corp. (PES - Snapshot Report) : Headquartered in San Antonio, TX, Pioneer Energy Services provides contract land drilling services to oil and gas operators in the U.S. and Colombia.
Zacks Rank: #2
% Price Change (YTD): 105.07%
The above-mentioned stocks have grabbed the spotlight with striking performances on the back of positive momentum in their stock price and solid future growth projections. What's impressive is that these market-beating money minters that are scaling newer heights still appear to have plenty of runway left.
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