Market Overview

Short The Sugar Bowl, Long BP?

There are a lot of things to dislike about the Bowl Championship Series (BCS), but to address all of them here, we'd be rewriting "War And Peace." Arguably, there's lots of things to dislike about the upcoming Allstate Sugar Bowl and BCS title game, which will both be held in New Orleans.

We could say Allstate's shares (NYSE: ALL) are down almost 15% year-to-date. Or that the company spends tends of millions of dollars each year to sponsor the Sugar Bowl while its dividend remains about half of what it was before the financial crisis.

Or we could complain that the Sugar Bowl features Virginia Tech whose coach defended his team's two losses by saying they came to the same team, Clemson. Well, the Hokies lost those games by a combined 48 points. Translation: A non-BCS school like TCU probably belongs in the game. Isn't Texas closer to New Orleans than Virginia?

Or we could bemoan the fact that the BCS title game is a sequel to the "game of the century" where LSU beat Alabama 9-6. We must be in a for an awful century if that's the best college football we're going to get.

Arguably, none of that is the most offensive stuff going on in relation to Sugar Bowl. No, that honor might just go to the Allstate Sugar Bowl Committee announcing a partnership Gulf Coast Seafood & Tourism Bash.

Normally, that would be fine and dandy, but the Gulf Coast Seafood & Tourism Bash is sponsored by BP (NYSE: BP), you know the company responsible for the largest oil spill in U.S. history.

"We're working with the Gulf Coast's seafood and tourism industries to spotlight two of the best things about this unique region," said Crystal Ashby, BP executive vice president of government and public affairs, in a statement. "Together, we want to deliver a clear message that the Gulf's beaches, restaurants, fishing and attractions provide unsurpassed vacation experiences."

In other words, the Sugar Bowl is helping BP try to repair its battered public image in the name of money. Hey, that's what college football is all about.

Admittedly, we like money, too. And BP may deliver some in 2012. The yield of 3.9% is attractive and if the company can sell more assets to generate the cash to raise the payout, all the better. For now, we'll short the Sugar Bowl, but the chart would help us get over BP's checkered past if the stock breaks resistance at $45.


ACTION ITEMS:

Bullish:
Traders who believe that BP will rebound next year might want to consider the following trades:
  • Long the stock. Hey, that's a nice yield.
  • Long the SPDR S&P International Energy ETF (NYSE: IPW). BP is a major component of this ETF.
  • Long the iShares MSCI U.K. ETF (NYSE: EWU). BP is a major component of this one, too.
Bearish:
Traders who believe that BP will falter next year, may consider alternative positions:
  • Long Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE: RDS-A). Better dividend, safer stock.
  • Long Total (NYSE: TOT). Same thing. Better dividend, less controversy.
  • Write covered calls on BP to generate income.
Neither Benzinga nor its staff recommend that you buy, sell, or hold any security. We do not offer investment advice, personalized or otherwise. Benzinga recommends that you conduct your own due diligence and consult a certified financial professional for personalized advice about your financial situation.

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