Schlumberger, Valero, Others See Rise in Short Interest
The short interest data is out from the August 15 settlement date showing mixed results for the oil and gas sector. Generally, these stocks are not heavily shorted -- who really thinks the price of oil will collapse any time soon? Shares sold short in BP (NYSE: BP), Chevron (NYSE: CVX) and ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM) all rose somewhat, but they remain less than 1.5 percent of the floats.
Here is a closer look at ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP), National Oilwell Varco (NYSE: NOV), Schlumberger (NYSE: SLB) and Valero Energy (NYSE: VLO), which saw some of the largest swings in short interest between July 31 and August 15.
ConocoPhillips saw short interest retreat 31.1 percent from the July 31 figure to 29.2 million shares, or about 2.5 percent of the float. Last week Conoco said it sold its stake in a Russian joint venture. The Houston-based company has a market capitalization of more than $68 billion, and its dividend yield is about 4.5 percent. The price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio is less than the industry average, and the mean price target of analysts is about 9 percent higher than the current share price. Shares plunged back in April when Conoco spun off Phillips 66 (NYSE: PSX) and have yet to fully recover.
National Oilwell Varco
Short interest in National Oilwell Varco increased 18.6 percent to 5.9 million shares. That represents about 1.4 percent of the float. The analysts' mean price target is more than 17 percent higher than the current share price. This Houston-based provider of equipment and services to the industry has a market cap of more than $33 billion and the dividend yield is about 0.6 percent. Its P/E ratio is higher than the industry average, but the long-term EPS growth forecast is 13.1%. Analysts expect revenue for the current quarter to be 43 percent higher year-over-year.
The Houston-based company saw short interest rise 13.5 percent during the period to 15.3 million shares, which represents 1.2 percent of the float. Another oil and gas equipment and services provider, this S&P 500 component has a market cap near $99 billion and a dividend yield of about 1.5 percent. Its P/E ratio is higher than the industry average. The stock as faced resistance at $75 per share for the past two weeks, and the share price is down more than 5 percent in the past six months. But 30 out of 31 analysts surveyed by Thomson/First Call rate the share at Buy or Strong Buy.
Short interest in Valero was 13.1 million shares, an increase of 20.7 percent from the July 31 settlement date. That totaled 2.4 percent of the float. This San Antonio-based independent refiner hit a new 52-week high on Monday. It too is an S&P 500 component, and it has a market cap of about $17 billion and a dividend yield near 2.4 percent. But its long-term EPS growth forecast is only about 5.4 percent. Still, 11 out of 19 analysts polled recommend buying shares. Their mean price target is more than 14 percent higher than the current share price.
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