Energy stocks have had a trying year, and there’s no sign of relief in sight.
The S&P 500 energy sector is the worst performing this year, up just 0.2%, versus the S&P 500 index’s
16.7% gain. A confluence of trade tensions, global growth concerns and a slump in oil prices that began in April have weighed on the sector, while concerns about future demand for fossil fuels has clouded the long-term outlook.
Few companies have felt the brunt of these trends like oil services firms Schlumberger Ltd.
and Halliburton Co.
which are now trading near or below their financial crisis lows, according to an analysis by Bespoke Investment Group.
“If you haven’t looked at the oil services space lately, you may be surprised to see just how far some of these companies have fallen,” Bespoke analysts wrote. “Just recently [Schlumberger] stock took out its prior lows made at the bottom of the Financial Crisis in March 2009! So while the S&P
is up about 330% from its low in March 2009, SLB’s share price is now down.”
Investors certainly can’t blame Schlumberger’s troubles solely on the recent decline in oil prices, as the ratio of its stock price to the price of oil is at an record low.
Competitor Halliburton is also nearing its post-financial crisis lows.
Both of these companies have a high dividend yield, with Schlumberger at 6.1% and Halliburton yielding 4%, well above the average 2.2% dividend yield for S&P 500 companies and above interest rates paid on U.S. Treasury bonds. Bespoke does point out, however, that Schlumberger is paying out more than its net income in dividends, calling into question whether the stock can maintain such a high yield.
Given these companies sell equipment to oil explorers, weak oil prices and fears of a brewing global recession are likely scarring away many investors, but those in it for the long term might consider these stocks, Bespoke analysts argued.
“Halliburton is probably a safer bet in the space than Schlumberger,” they write, “but there’s an attractive ‘buy low’ contrarian setup for both of them right now in our opinion.”