Posts

April 29, 2019

Global Market Comments
April 29, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(MARKET OUTLOOK FOR THE WEEK AHEAD, OR ANOTHER LEG UP FOR THE MARKET),
(SPY), (TLT), (DIS), (INTU), (FCX), (MSFT),
 (QQQ), (CVX), (XOM), (OXY), (TSLA)

March 7, 2019

Global Market Comments
March 7, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(BETTER BATTERIES HAVE BECOME BIG DISRUPTERS)
(TSLA), (XOM), (USO)

December 14, 2018

Global Market Comments
December 14, 2018
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(DECEMBER 12 BIWEEKLY STRATEGY WEBINAR Q&A),
(SPX), (MU), (PYPL), (SPOT), (FXE), (FXY), (XLF), (MSFT), (AMZN), (TSLA), (XOM), 
(SIGN UP NOW FOR TEXT MESSAGING OF TRADE ALERTS)

November 7, 2018

Global Market Comments
November 7, 2018
Fiat Lux

SPECIAL ELECTION ISSUE

Featured Trade:
(THROWING RED MEAT TO MY BASE)
(RTN), (LMT), (NOC), (HON), (XOM), (CVX), (DVN)

October 17, 2018

Global Market Comments
October 17, 2018
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(WHO WAS THE GREATEST WEALTH CREATOR IN HISTORY?)
(FB), (AAPL), (GOOG), (AMZN),
 (XOM), (BRKY), (T), (GM), (VZ), (CCA),
(WHY DOCTORS MAKE TERRIBLE TRADERS?)

May 25, 2018

Global Market Comments
May 25, 2018
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:
(FRIDAY, AUGUST 3, 2018, AMSTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS GLOBAL STRATEGY DINNER),
(MAY 23 BIWEEKLY STRATEGY WEBINAR Q&A),
(TLT), (SPY), (TSLA), (EEM), (USO), (NVDA),
(GILD), (GE), (PIN), (GLD), (XOM), (FCX), (VIX)

May 10, 2018

Global Market Comments
May 10, 2018
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:
(TUESDAY, JUNE 12, NEW ORLEANS, LA, GLOBAL STRATEGY LUNCHEON),
(THE END OF THE IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL AND YOUR PORTFOLIO),
(USO), (XOM), (OXY), (CVX), (DAL), (XLP),
(UPGRADING OUR CUSTOMER SUPPORT)

April 13, 2018

Global Market Comments
April 13, 2018
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:
(ANNOUNCING THE MAD HEDGE LAKE TAHOE, NEVADA, CONFERENCE, OCTOBER 26-27, 2018),
(APRIL 11 GLOBAL STRATEGY WEBINAR Q&A),
(TLT), (TBT), (GOOGL), (MU), (LRCX), (NVDA) (IBM),
(GLD), (AMZN), (MSFT), (XOM), (SPY), (QQQ)

Why I Love/Hate the Oil Companies

The first thing I do when I get up every morning is to curse the oil companies as blood sucking scourges of modern civilization.

I then fall down on my knees and thank God that we have the oil companies.

This is why petroleum engineers are getting $100,000 straight out of college, while English and political science major are going straight on to food stamps.

I recommend (XOM) and other oil majors as part of any long-term portfolio. In my lifetime, the price of oil has gone up from $3 a barrel up to $149.

The reasons for the ascent keep growing, from the entry of China into the global trading system, to the rapid growth of the middle class in emerging nations.? They?re just not making the stuff anymore, and we can?t wait around for more dinosaurs to get squashed.

Big oil companies aren?t in the oil speculation business. As soon as a new supply comes on stream, they hedge off their risk through the futures markets or through long-term supply contracts. You can find the prices they hedge at in the back of any annual report.

This is why the oil crash barely caused the shares of oil majors to move. Exxon Mobil (XOM) shares are now down only 15%, while its principal product is off by an astounding 80% from its 2011 top.

When oil made its big run to $149 a few years ago, I discovered to my amazement that (XOM) had already sold most of their supplies in the $20 range. However, oil companies do make huge killings on what is already in the pipeline.

Working in the oil patch 15 years ago pioneering the ?fracking? process for natural gas, I got to know many people in the industry. I found them to be insular, God fearing people not afraid of hard work.

Perhaps this is because the black gold they are pursuing can blow up and kill them at any time. They are also great with numbers, which is why the oil majors are the best-managed companies in the world.

They are also huge gamblers. I swallow hard when I see the way these guys throw around billions in capital, keeping in mind past disasters, like Dome Petroleum, the Alaskan Pipeline oil spill, Piper Alpha, and more recently, the ill-fated Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico.

But one failure does not slow them down an iota. The ?wildcatting? origins made this a faith-based industry from day one, when praying and dousing wands were the principal determinants of where wells were sunk.

Unfortunately, the oil companies are too good at their job of supplying us with a steady and reliable source of energy. They have one of the oldest and most powerful lobbies in Washington, and as a result, the tax code is riddled with favorite treatment of the oil industry.

While Social Security and Medicare are on the chopping block, the industry basks in the glow of $53 billion a year in tax subsidies.

When I first got into the oil business and sat down with a Houston CPA, the tax breaks were so legion that I couldn?t understand why anyone was not in the oil racket.

Ever wonder why we have had three presidents from Texas over the last 50 years, and are possibly looking at a fourth (Jeb Bush, Rick Perry)?

Three words explain it all: the oil depletion allowance, whereby investors can write off the entire cost of a new well in the first year, while the income is spread over the life of the well.

This also explains why deep-water exploration in the Gulf is far less regulated than California hairdressers.

No surprise then that the industry has emerged in the cross hairs of several presidential candidates, under the ?loopholes? category. Not only do the country?s most profitable companies pay almost nothing in taxes, they are one of the largest users of private jets.

It is an old Washington nostrum that when things start heading south on the domestic front, you beat up the oil companies. It?s the industry that everyone loves to hate.

Cut off the gasoline supply to an environmentalist, and he will be the one who screams the loudest. This has generated recurring cycles of accusatory congressional investigations, windfall profits taxes, and punitive regulations, the most recent flavor we are now seeing.

But imagine what the world would look like if Exxon and its cohorts were German, Saudi, or heaven forbid, Chinese. I bet we wouldn?t have as much oil as we do today, and it wouldn?t be as cheap.

Hate them if you will, but at least these are our oil companies. Try jamming a lump of coal into the gas tank of your Prius and tell me how far you go.

Well, that?s enough ranting for today.

$WTIC 4-15-15
XOM
COP
OXY
$WTIC

oilLove Them, Hate Them or Both?

More Pain to Come in Oil

There are very few people I will drop everything to listen to.

One of the handful is Daniel Yergin, the bookish founder and CEO of Cambridge Energy Research Associates, the must-go-to source for all things energy.

Daniel received a Pulitzer Prize for The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and Power, a rare feat for a non-fiction book (I?ve never been able to get one).

Suffice it to say that every professional in the oil industry, and not a few hedge fund traders, have devoured this riveting book and based their investment decisions upon it.

Yergin thinks that the fracking and horizontal drilling revolutions have made the United States the new swing producer of oil. There is so much money in the investment pipeline that American oil production will continue to increase for the next six months, by some 500,000 barrels a day.

Much of this oil is coming from heavily leveraged, thinly capitalized producers whose bankers won?t let them cut back a drop on production so they can maintain interest payments on their debt.

This new supply will run head on into the seasonal drop in demand for energy, when spring ritually reduces heating bills, but the need for air-conditioning has not yet kicked in.

The net net could be a further drop in the price for Texas tea from the present $31 a barrel, possibly a dramatic one into the teens.

Yergin isn?t predicting any specific oil price as a potential floor, as it is an impossible task. While OPEC was a monolithic cartel, the US fracking industry is made up of thousands of mom and pop operators, and no one knows what anyone else is doing.

However, he is willing to bet that the price of oil will be higher in a year.

Currently, the 96 million barrel global market for oil is oversupplied with 2 million barrels a day.

If the International Monetary Fund is right, and the world adds 3.0% in economic growth this year, we will soak up 1 million b/d of that with new demand.

In the end, the oil price collapse is a self-solving problem. The new economic growth engendered by ultra low fuel prices eventually drives prices higher.

Where we reach the tipping point, and the oil market comes back into balance, is anyone?s guess. But when it does, prices will go substantially higher. The cure for low prices is low prices.

This is why I listed energy as the top performing asset class this year (click here for my ?2016 Annual Asset Class Review? by clicking here.

The bottom line is that there will be a great time to buy oil companies, but it is not yet.

What we are witnessing now is the worst energy crash since the 1980?s, when new supplies from the North Sea, Mexico and Alaska all hit at the same time.

I remember the last time oil plunged to $8 a barrel, because Morgan Stanley then set up a private partnership that bought commercial real estate in Houston for ten cents on the dollar. The eventual return on this fund was over 1,000%.

This time it is more complicated. Prices lived over $100 for so long that it sucked in an unprecedented amount of capital into new drilling, some $100 billion worth.

As a result, sources were brought online from parts of the world as diverse as Russia, the Arctic, Central Asia, Africa, the Canadian tar sands and remote and very expensive offshore platforms.

Yergin believes that Saudi Arabia can survive for three years with prices at current levels. After that, it will burn through its $150 billion of foreign exchange reserves, and could face a crisis.

Clearly, the Kingdom is betting that prices will recover with its market share based strategy before then. They are playing for the long haul.

The transition of power to the new King Salman was engineered by a committee of senior family members, and has been very orderly.

However, King Salman, a Sunni, will have his hands full. The current takeover of Yemen by a hostile Shiite minority, the Houthis, is a major concern. Yemen shares a 1,100 mile border with Saudi Arabia.

Daniel says that a year ago, there was a lot of geopolitical risk priced into oil, with multiple crises in the Ukraine, Syria, Libya and Iraq frightening consumers, so trading levitated over $100 for years. Delta Airlines, Inc. (DAL) even went to the length of buying its own refiner to keep fuel prices from rising further.

US oil producers have a unique advantage over competitors in that they can cut costs faster than any other competitors in the world. On the other hand, they are eventually going head to head against the Saudis, whose average cost of production is a mere $5/barrel.

A native of my own hometown of Los Angeles, Yergin started his professional career as a lecturer at Harvard University. He founded Cambridge Energy in 1982 with a $7.00 investment in a file cabinet at the Good Will. He later sold Cambridge Energy to the consulting group IHS Inc. for a small fortune.

To buy The Prize at discount Amazon pricing, please click here.

The Prize

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