Betting on oil stocks could be a ‘bad call’

Oil prices may be taking a turn lower, despite strong performances by the major oil companies, according to CNBC’s Jim Cramer.

Exxon Mobil, Chevron and BP all released their quarterly earnings numbers last week, reporting “some of the best quarters I can recall in the oil patch,” the “Mad Money” host said.

Exxon and Chevron both reported their highest cash flows from operating activities in recent years. BP raised its stock dividend, and the CFO believes that oil will continue to trade above $70 for the next six months.

However, Cramer thinks that the major oil companies’ rosy outlook doesn’t reflect the economic reality.

On Monday, President Donald Trump announced that the U.S. would once again impose sanctions on Iran’s energy sector. Iran is the world’s third-largest oil producer.

“You’d think that the price of oil would be soaring,” following news of the sanctions, said Cramer. “But instead it actually closed down on the day.”

In contrast to the oil producers’ rallying stocks, oilfield service companies like Schlumberger and Halliburton are trading at nearly the same levels as when oil prices were much lower.

“If oil were really ready to roar, then the oil service stocks would be flying here,” the “Mad Money” host said. “These companies make a fortune when producers put their money where their mouth is and open the drilling spigot.”

With these conflicting pictures of the state of the oil market, Cramer believes that prices may be on the verge of a downturn.

“I think demand for oil is slowing, perhaps slowing enough to cause a major breakdown in price,” the “Mad Money” host concluded.

As a result, investors that are betting on companies like Exxon, Chevron and BP may be making a “bad call.”

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