The price of a barrel of crude hit $111 on Wednesday, and throughout the nation people are paying an average of $3.84 for a gallon of gasoline. If you live in California, as I do, then you’re paying about $4.30 a gallon for the lowest-octane fuel option.
These two metrics, along with the ignominious one-year anniversary of the BP (NYSE:BP) oil spill, have placed Big Oil stocks right in the bullseye of the investing public.
So, how have some of the biggest stocks in the sector performed of late? Over the past three months, BP shares are down 7.3%. The selling in the stock ramped up in March, as fears over a decline in global demand due to the earthquake/tsunami/nuclear disaster in Japan. But the past three months don’t really tell the story when it comes to BP.
BP has jumped about 70% since falling to a 52-week low last June. Bottom-fishers who bought the stock on weakness after the disastrous Gulf spill are smiling all the way to the bank.
Shareholders in oil giant Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM) have enjoyed a much more profitable history recently than BP owners, as the stock is up 7.1% over the past three months. The mega-cap behemoth has posted a 22.8% gain over the past 12 months, giving shareholders at least a modicum of revenge against the soaring cost of fuel and the inflation and economic damage that persistently high oil prices bring to the table.
The measure of revenge becomes even stronger if you own Chevron (NYSE:CVX). This Big Oil stalwart’s shares have risen 13.4% over the past three months, and over the past 52 weeks CVX has jumped 29.6%.
The same measure of market outperformance can be seen in other Big Oil stocks such as ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP), up nearly 40% over the past 12 months, Occidental Petroleum (NYSE:OXY), up a more modest 16.6% over the past year, and Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE:RDSA), which has pumped shareholders a 17.4% during the last 52 weeks.
As oil prices continue soaring, and as we begin seeing earnings come in from the big players in the sector, look for a continuation of the upside we’ve seen in this bevy of Big Oil stocks.
At the time of publication, Jim Woods held no positions in any of the stocks, funds or options mentioned in this article.