Is the bromance between President Donald Trump and Russian leader Vladimir Putin losing its passion? It seemed that way when Putin recently shared his thoughts about rising oil prices and oil stocks in general. The Russian strongman agreed with Trump that prices have skyrocketed. However, Putin placed blame on his administration for much of the pain.
In an unexpected twist in an otherwise chummy relationship, Putin criticized the former real-estate mogul for his aggressive foreign policy. He bluntly stated:
“But let’s be frank, such oil prices are to some extent the result of the U.S. administration. I’m talking about sanctions against Iran, about political problems in Venezuela and just looking at what’s happening in Libya.”
Putin later added that “if you want to find the culprit of who’s guilty that prices are growing then you should just have a look in the mirror.” Ouch! But will the sudden friction between Trump and Putin have an impact towards energy stocks?
I certainly doubt that Putin’s words will cause much of a ripple in the markets. However, he’s right about his criticisms as it concerns oil stocks. Trump has lashed out towards nations that he doesn’t care for, and this may cost him.
His indelicate handling of the Iran nuclear deal is troublesome for prices, but a boon for energy stocks. Since Iran is one of the world’s biggest exporters, any impact to that supply raises demand. You can see that in the fact that oil prices went up despite U.S. inventory rising to surprising highs.
Moreover, the consumer economy is improving, which is a massive tailwind for energy stocks. Here are 7 stock picks from the oil and energy sector that will continue its northward trek:
While oil stocks are prudent investments at this juncture, you can’t avoid the fact that the sector is historically volatile. We only have to go back a few years to recognize this for ourselves. Back in the energy doldrums, several companies imploded.
That’s why even in this rising tide, it makes sense to have some exposure to the biggest boat at sea. Chevron (NYSE:CVX) is an industry titan among energy stocks, and has ample resources to navigate most any market condition. Additionally, I consider broader weakness in CVX stock this year to be a very sensible contrarian opportunity.
Year-to-date, CVX stock has only gained 2.5%. That’s ridiculous compared to other names in the market segment. Some disappointing details in recent earnings reports, as well as certain budget-exceeding energy projects, have hurt the oil firm.
But these issues are well known and have likely been priced in. With surging oil prices, I see CVX stock joining the party. And let’s not forget the 3.6% dividend yield, which helps add confidence for prospective shareholders.
Occidental Petroleum (OXY)
A massive name among oil stocks, Occidental Petroleum (NYSE:OXY) is a domestic integrated-oil company, with operations extending to Latin America and the Middle East. Due to its diversified exposure, OXY stock has performed well relative to its large-sized peers, gaining 15% YTD. However, given the current situation, I expect further gains for the energy giant.
Occidental Petroleum is a solid name in the oil and energy category. Its operating and net margins rank near the top third among oil stocks. Its sales growth over the last three years is negative, as is the case for almost all energy companies. The good news is that Occidental has hit the recovery stride, which bodes well for OXY stock.
In its most recent quarter, the company generated over $4 billion in revenue, up 33% from the year-ago level. Currently, sales are on pace to exceed the annual haul of the past three years. Additionally, management has succeeded in stabilizing its cash flow from years ago.
Thanks to its strengths across the board, I see OXY stock advantaging geopolitical tailwinds better than other competitors.
Marathon Oil (MRO)
Marathon Oil (NYSE:MRO) was one of many oil stocks hit hard during the 2014 energy crisis. Not only did MRO stock absorb significant damage, management had to scramble to respond effectively to the disaster. That has left Marathon fundamentally damaged. However, we’re seeing signs that its current comeback is a believable one.
In its most recent earnings report, the company’s results disappointed on paper. Earnings per share of 15 cents missed consensus target by nearly 26%. However, sales increased 30% to nearly $1.3 billion. Adding to the enthusiasm for MRO stock, its free cash flow has stabilized significantly since two years ago. Management has also focused on keeping debt levels reasonable.
The markets appreciate the effort. Since the Q2 disclosure, MRO stock gained over 18%. Thanks to multiple tailwinds driving energy stocks, I like Marathon Oil’s chances moving forward.
Bellatrix Exploration (BXE)
If you really want to take a gamble on oil stocks, consider adding Bellatrix Exploration (NYSE:BXE) to your speculation list. But a word of caution before we begin: BXE stock, with a market capitalization of a little over $70 million, is not for the faint of heart.
At first glance, and even several glances later, Bellatrix doesn’t strike people as a smart bet. Its recent quarterly revenue fell off a cliff. So far this year, BXE stock has dropped a worrying 33% in the markets.
That said, shares have stabilized since July of this year, with BXE stock deviating only a few times from its rangebound trading. And just recently, shares have experienced a tremendous shot in the arm.
The sudden shift in trading sentiment isn’t without merit. Management has focused on financial stability, keeping costs and expenses manageable while paring net-income losses. With further discipline, and rejuvenation among energy stocks, BXE could return soon to profitability.
EOG Resources (EOG)
The crisis that cratered energy stocks in 2014 didn’t discriminate. Whether you were a “Big Oil” member, or a smaller independent outfit, you felt the pain. However, some managed the storm better than others. One such name is EOG Resources (NYSE:EOG).
During the sector meltdown, EOG stock suffered a sizable loss against its all-time highs. However, the company managed to avoid utter devastation thanks to a diversified portfolio. Unlike many of its competitors, EOG’s leadership team avoided singular exposure to the Permian basin. Instead, it spread its resources throughout various American energy fields, as well as southern Canada.
That move has paid dividends for EOG stock, which is one of the better performing sector players. The energy firm enjoyed a robust recovery in 2016, quicker than most of the competition. And on a YTD basis, EOG is up 20.5%.
With energy stocks regaining their mojo, look for EOG to continue leading its segment.
Enterprise Products Partners (EPD)
Typically, what I find in articles focusing on energy stocks is an emphasis on upstream or downstream companies. That makes sense because the upstream, or the exploratory phase, is usually the sexy (albeit risky) component of the game. Of course, the downstream is something which we regular folks can’t live without.
But with rising oil and gas prices, you don’t want to ignore midstream companies like Enterprise Products Partners (NYSE:EPD). Midstream usually involves either the transportation or storage of energy resources. The segment also represents the wholesale marketing of petroleum-based products. Enterprise Products specializes in pipelines and storage facilities, and the rising tide suggests good things in store for EPD stock.
No matter what happens to the markets, the oil supply chain requires transportation and storage management. Therefore, EPD stock is better protected from volatility than companies directly associated with energy prices.
Another compelling reason to consider EPD stock? It features a very generous 5.8% dividend yield in a bullish market.
Continental Resources (CLR)
Continental Resources (NYSE:CLR) is one of the sector names that hasn’t quite recovered from the energy meltdown. At its peak in August of 2014, CLR stock traded for over $80. Shares subsequently collapsed before staging a comeback in 2016. So far this year, CLR has gained over 34%.
Of course, investors in energy stocks have been burned before. So is the enthusiasm — particularly the recent bump up in CLR stock — worth the gamble? As long as you recognize the highly-volatile nature of this market segment, I believe CLR’s rally is fundamentally justified.
To begin, Continental Resources put in a solid performance for its Q2 earnings report. EPS of 73 cents beat the consensus target calling for 71 cents. Furthermore, the company rang up $1.14 billion in sales, up 72% from the year-ago quarter. As well, the company has focused on steadying its balance sheet by controlling its debt.
Finally, with enthusiasm returning robustly to the energy sector, CLR stock has the right stuff to surprise.
As of this writing, Josh Enomoto did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.