Oil and Gas Short Sellers Try to Pick Winners

Crude traded around $39 a barrel early Monday, down by about $2.40 a barrel over the past week. Trading remains in a narrow range right around $40 a barrel, where it’s been stuck for nearly four months.

Of the companies we watch, interest increased on four of six energy stocks during the two-week reporting period ending October 15. Share prices also increased on four of the six stocks during the two-week period.

Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) saw short interest drop by 16% to 16.4 million shares, which represents about 1.1% of the company’s float. Days to cover fell from three to two. In the two-week short interest period, the stock’s share price rose by about 2.1%. Its 52-week range is $51.60 to $122.94, it traded at $70.15 on Tuesday.

Exxon Mobil Corp.’s (NYSE: XOM) short interest rose by 4% to 46.6 million shares, or about 1.1% of the company’s float. Days to cover remained at two. In the two weeks to October 15, the share price rose by 0.4%. The stock’s 52-week range is $30.11 to $73.12, and it traded at $33.00 on Tuesday.

BP PLC (NYSE: BP) saw a jump of 30% in short interest during the two-week period. About 0.3% of the total float, or 8.5 million American depositary shares, were short, and days to cover remained at one. The company’s shares fell by about 5.8% over the period, in a 52-week range of $15.42 to $40.08. The low was set Tuesday morning following BP’s third-quarter earnings announcement.

ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP) short interest increased by 11% in the first half of October. Some 12.1 million shares were short, representing about 1.1% of the company’s total float. Days to cover remained at two, and the stock price rose by about 7.8% during the period. Shares traded Tuesday at $30.35, in a 52-week range of $20.84 to $67.13.

Petróleo Brasileiro S.A.’s (NYSE: PBR) short interest dropped by 15% during the two-week period. Some 19.7 million ADSs were short as of October 15, about 0.5% of the total float. Petrobras traded at $7.05 on Tuesday, in a 52-week range of $4.01 to $16.84. Shares dipped by 1.5% in the two-week short interest period, and days to cover slipped from two to one.

Occidental Petroleum Corp. (NYSE: OXY) saw short interest decline by 2% to 45.5 million shares. Days to cover remained at two, and about 4.9% of the company’s shares were short. In the two weeks to October 15, the share price rose by about 6%. The stock’s 52-week range is $9.00 to $47.58, and shares traded Tuesday at $9.35.

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