Coronavirus Makes Market History

Thursday’s fall in equity markets was the worst since the October 19th, 1987 stock market crash. I was a young interest rate trader then, and that evening I warned my wife that we should stock up on canned food while we prepared for another 1930s Depression. She scoffed that only Wall Street had a problem, and that Main Street was fine.

1987, 2008 and today have different causes, but the need for some solid valuation guideposts is the same. The Equity Risk Premium (ERP) is the difference between the S&P500’s Earnings Per Share (EPS) yield (inverse of the P/E) and ten year treasury yields. Assuming, EPS drop 15%, the ERP is showing stocks to be attractive. A 15% drop seems conservative, and would be approximately the same as 2008, but we’ll emerge from this crisis into a different world. Based on what we know today, broad equity exposure looks cheap.

Energy sector investors have endured several years of underperformance. The industry has invested more in exploiting the Shale Revolution than investors wanted them to. Crude oil has been hit by the Covid-19 demand shock, collapse of OPEC+ and Saudi Arabia’s subsequent decision to increase supply into an over-supplied market.

Domestic energy demand will drop, but it will eventually recover. The upstream companies that drill for oil are at the epicenter of the price collapse. Midstream energy infrastructure companies care about the financial health of their customers as well as the volumes flowing through the system. The sector entered this downturn with stronger balance sheets than in 2014 and with a developing very positive free cash flow story (see Updating the Coming Pipeline Cash Gusher).

We expect most to follow Oneok (OKE) in cutting spending on growth projects this year, which will free up cash to further reduce debt. The American Energy Independence Index consists of 75% investment grade companies doing about 80% of their business with investment grade customers. The index is down around 50% YTD, roughly the same as U.S. airline stocks, which are regarded as needing some type of short term Federal government support.

Finally, an interesting chart from Ethan Bellamy at RW Baird, which illustrates the shift in the crude oil curve over the past three months. Spot prices have moved much more that deferred futures contracts. Saudi Arabia and Russia are generally sellers into the spot market, while shale drillers tend to hedge future output for the next couple of years. Because the curve is in contango, sales in the spot market have the lowest realizations.

A strategy to damage the shale industry would create backwardation, as existed in December. In that environment, forward sales of output realize lower prices than spot, which is good for big producers like Saudi Arabia. Their goal is to drive down futures prices along the curve, and the chart shows that spot prices have dropped $30 to produce a far smaller change at, say, the 36 month point. It’s a very expensive strategy for the sellers. At least the Strategic Petroleum Reserve is being replenished cheaply.

Energy had the worst week any of us can recall, and few readers probably have much appetite for a bullish view. For investors and asset managers in the sector, Friday’s rally was welcome but well short of compensating for prior losses. So we’ll just let the chart speak for itself.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Important Disclosures

The information provided is for informational purposes only and investors should determine for themselves whether a particular service, security or product is suitable for their investment needs. The information contained herein is not complete, may not be current, is subject to change, and is subject to, and qualified in its entirety by, the more complete disclosures, risk factors and other terms that are contained in the disclosure, prospectus, and offering. Certain information herein has been obtained from third party sources and, although believed to be reliable, has not been independently verified and its accuracy or completeness cannot be guaranteed. No representation is made with respect to the accuracy,  completeness or timeliness of this information. Nothing provided on this site constitutes tax advice. Individuals should seek the advice of their own tax advisor for specific information regarding tax consequences of investments.  Investments in securities entail risk and are not suitable for all investors. This site is not a recommendation nor an offer to sell (or solicitation of an offer to buy) securities in the United States or in any other jurisdiction.

References to indexes and benchmarks are hypothetical illustrations of aggregate returns and do not reflect the performance of any actual investment. Investors cannot invest in an index and do not reflect the deduction of the advisor’s fees or other trading expenses. There can be no assurance that current investments will be profitable. Actual realized returns will depend on, among other factors, the value of assets and market conditions at the time of disposition, any related transaction costs, and the timing of the purchase. Indexes and benchmarks may not directly correlate or only partially relate to portfolios managed by SL Advisors as they have different underlying investments and may use different strategies or have different objectives than portfolios managed by SL Advisors (e.g. The Alerian index is a group MLP securities in the oil and gas industries. Portfolios may not include the same investments that are included in the Alerian Index. The S & P Index does not directly relate to investment strategies managed by SL Advisers.)

This site may contain forward-looking statements relating to the objectives, opportunities, and the future performance of the U.S. market generally. Forward-looking statements may be identified by the use of such words as; “believe,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “should,” “planned,” “estimated,” “potential” and other similar terms. Examples of forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, estimates with respect to financial condition, results of operations, and success or lack of success of any particular investment strategy. All are subject to various factors, including, but not limited to general and local economic conditions, changing levels of competition within certain industries and markets, changes in interest rates, changes in legislation or regulation, and other economic, competitive, governmental, regulatory and technological factors affecting a portfolio’s operations that could cause actual results to differ materially from projected results. Such statements are forward-looking in nature and involves a number of known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors, and accordingly, actual results may differ materially from those reflected or contemplated in such forward-looking statements. Prospective investors are cautioned not to place undue reliance on any forward-looking statements or examples. None of SL Advisors LLC or any of its affiliates or principals nor any other individual or entity assumes any obligation to update any forward-looking statements as a result of new information, subsequent events or any other circumstances. All statements made herein speak only as of the date that they were made. r

Certain hyperlinks or referenced websites on the Site, if any, are for your convenience and forward you to third parties’ websites, which generally are recognized by their top level domain name. Any descriptions of, references to, or links to other products, publications or services does not constitute an endorsement, authorization, sponsorship by or affiliation with SL Advisors LLC with respect to any linked site or its sponsor, unless expressly stated by SL Advisors LLC. Any such information, products or sites have not necessarily been reviewed by SL Advisors LLC and are provided or maintained by third parties over whom SL Advisors LLC exercise no control. SL Advisors LLC expressly disclaim any responsibility for the content, the accuracy of the information, and/or quality of products or services provided by or advertised on these third-party sites.

All investment strategies have the potential for profit or loss. Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that any specific investment will be suitable or profitable for a client’s investment portfolio.

Past performance of the American Energy Independence Index is not indicative of future returns.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
4 replies
  1. Elliot Miller
    Elliot Miller says:

    Because natural gas prices are expected to increase, gas is also in contango as are NGLs, so midstream companies which have storage and terminaling as well as gathering and processing and transporting,will likely find that storage increases will compensating for drilling declines


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.