It's been a good year for shares of Ecopetrol (EC - Get Report), even if investors hate this stock right now. The $130 billion Columbian oil and gas company has seen its shares climb more than 26% in the last 12 months, stomping the performance that domestic oil giants have been able to turn out here at home.
But don't think for a second that the upside in Ecopetrol has investors warming to shares. With a short interest ratio of 17.8, it would take almost a full month of buying pressure for shorts to cover their bets against this stock. That makes it a prime short squeeze candidate.Ecopetrol is the biggest energy company in Colombia, generating around 70% of the country's output. Despite the firm's publicly traded float around 90% of shares are still owned by the Columbian government, a fact that helps guarantee that market-leading position isn't likely to disappear any time soon. Not surprising, that government-sponsorship means that EC is a vertically integrated firm, with operations ranging from exploration and production to refining and transportation. Oil prices sitting on the high end of their historical range provide a big tailwind for Ecopetrol. That said, exposure to the volatile Colombian Peso doesn't help investors' love affair with this stock, particularly given the strong performance of the U.S. dollar in recent years. Don't forget, though, that EC's output is denominated in oil and gas, two commodities that make the firm's exposure to the peso slightly less worrying. Government-sponsored enterprise status doesn't hurt either for shares.