NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- I was talking today to Joe Deaux about natural gas and its climb again today above $5/mcf. I think that this second rise was a very constructive one and we are going to see more sustainable and higher natural gas prices.
A brutal cold snap in the southern U.S. caught many traders unawares last week and saw prices for natural gas rise above $5 for the first time in three years. But prices moderated almost immediately soon after the ice melted in Atlanta. Again, however, prices took a sharp rise Tuesday and have March futures trading above $5.25/mcf, a rise of more than 6%.
Sure, there's another blast of bad weather headed across the northern parts of the country Tuesday night and throughout the coming weekend, but this rapid rise of prices so soon again represents more, I think.
Low stockpiles caused by sequestration and a rush of domestic exploration and production companies away from natural gas production in favor of shale oil is taking its toll and providing the first real and consistent support of prices since 2007. Suddenly, natural gas markets are vulnerable to price spikes and traders are afraid to be short.
There are two logical ways to try and take advantage of this. One would be to buy natural gas futures further out on the curve where prices are still well below $5. May 2014, for example, is trading just above $4.55. Another way to try and profit would be with dedicated natural gas stocks that haven't yet reacted strongly to $5+ natural gas prices.
The big players in the Marcellus such as Cabot (COG) and EQT Corp. (EQT) have already shown strength, but others have yet to react. I like Fayetteville leader Southwestern (SWN), still undervalued, I think, at $42 a share.
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