Last month's gathering of the
Energy Roundtable painted an uncertain picture. After a year of good news and performance, many energy names had given back most of their gains, and investors were searching for the floor in oil and gas prices.
Since then, the world has changed. And that floor has fallen much lower.
Last Tuesday's terror has impacted the energy sector. Its economic effects and the possible U.S. retaliation will continue to affect the energy markets.
What's next? We asked members of our Roundtable to revisit their comments and stock suggestions.
Tyler Dann: More Cognizant of the Risks
In August, Banc of America Securities oil analyst Tyler Dann believed the big multinational oil companies provided a shelter in uncertain markets. While he still thinks those companies offer value, the risks are clearly higher.
"We are more neutral on the stocks and much more cognizant of the risks," Dann says.
The economic environment has clearly turned negative. "A global recession scenario is now, at the margin, more likely," he says. "We did not think investors were discounting a global recession before the attacks, and now they are. It has been built into the prices very quickly."
from his focus list, although the current price is attractive for longer-term investors. He continues to rate
( CHV) a buy and likes the prospects when its merger with
He still likes
, saying the acquisition of
( TOS) will fortify its balance sheet. He rates the stock a buy with a 12-month price target of $67. He also cites
as his top pick among the mid-cap integrated companies. His firm has not provided banking services for any of the companies mentioned.
While Dann hasn't revised his outlook for oil prices -- $26.25 per barrel in the fourth quarter and $23.50 per barrel in 2002 -- a slowing economy has changed his leanings. "Our oil-price forecast is unchanged, but our upside bias is removed," he says.
Bryan Dutt: Nowhere to Hide
As Tuesday's terror unfolded, some investors thought energy might be a place to hide, believing that any Middle East tension would push prices of crude and energy companies higher.
In the immediate aftermath, that did happen, but the lift was gone by the time U.S. markets reopened. And Bryan Dutt, portfolio manager at
Ironman Energy Capital
, doesn't look for that to change soon.
"It is clear energy is not a place to hide right now," Dutt says. "Energy investing is ultimately investing in a commodity driven by marginal supply and demand. After last Tuesday, marginal demand simply disappeared."
To illustrate the impact of last week's events, he makes a simple point: "Ten percent of crude demand comes from jet fuel. End of story."
Hopes for a commodity-price recovery, Dutt believes, have been pushed back, both for oil and natural gas. "OPEC will likely abandon their price band and lower it a couple of bucks," he says. "It is simply unsustainable given the current economy."
While he isn't enthusiastic about any of his picks from last month, he says he would add to positions in
( MVK) and
. However, given uncertainties over
position in China, he would not add to that position.
His three short ideas --
-- are still shorts. "Calpine is a more aggressive short now," he says. "Nothing has changed in those three that is positive."
Marshall Adkins: The Bottom Is Near
In August, Marshall Adkins, director of energy research at Raymond James, was quite a bear. Though nobody could have predicted the recent events, he correctly suggested investors avoid oil-service names until the Philadelphia Stock Exchange Oil Service Index, or OSX, fell to near 60. It approached that level this week.
Now he thinks the worst may be over. "After the massive selloff of the last several days, we now believe that energy stocks are at or very near their bottoming point," he says.
Adkins believed in August that the markets would sell off into an "October crescendo," the culmination of several negative catalysts for the energy sector, including increased natural gas supply, a slowing economy and some tax-loss selling by mutual funds. He thinks all of those events have occurred, but a bit earlier than expected. "The events of the last several weeks seemed to have accelerated the market's awareness of these negative catalysts," he says.
He now sees catalysts to the upside, including a 20% to 30% probability of a near-term disruption in crude supply and at least an 80% probability of supply problems over the next two years. "It is increasingly likely that some OPEC countries will become entrenched in this war in one way or another," Adkins says, referring to the probable U.S. offensive against terrorism. "The timing of a supply disruption is too hard to gauge given the countless scenarios that could play out over the coming months, but the likelihood of a disruption over the next two years is almost a certainty."
Other positive catalysts that Adkins finds include a possible decline in natural gas production, a decline in natural gas storage beginning in January, and large short positions in energy stocks that could prompt a short-covering rally.
What about economic worries? "While these concerns are very valid, they are probably being overestimated," he says, noting that he doesn't envision oil prices falling below the mid-20s.
He'd begin to take new positions in beat-up oil-service names, such as
( GRP) and
( NOI). Among the exploration-and-production names that Adkins and his group like are
and Cross Timbers.
"As we emerge from the energy abyss, the names we would be focusing on are the names that have fallen the furthest," Adkins says.
Fallen they have.
Coming soon: Watch for more views from other
Energy Roundtable members.
Christopher S. Edmonds is president of Resource Dynamics, a private financial consulting firm based in Atlanta. At time of publication, Edmonds' firm was long Calpine, although holdings can change at any time. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. While Edmonds cannot provide investment advice or recommendations, he welcomes your feedback and invites you to send it to