Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Beware Big Oil stocks

A couple stories from CNN Money. I don't know the reporter, Steve Hargreaves, so I thought I'd put these on the blog as a test, to get a feel for his instincts, micro and macro. I'll return to this post in three months.
(And a third story as a backup)

With crude prices jumping to record highs, yet the stock of big oil firms rising only modestly, it may be tempting to put money into the energy sector.

Some analysts say that would be a bad bet."Nobody in his right mind thinks this oil price is sustainable or justified by market fundamentals," said Fadel Gheit, a senior energy analyst at Oppenheimer. "The higher prices go, the greater the risk for downside potential."

Over the last month the price of U.S. crude on the New York Mercantile Exchange has surged nearly 20 percent, hitting a record high of $83.90 a barrel last week....MORE

Debunking the ethanol bust
Prices have collapsed and stock prices have plummeted, but some say these are just normal kinks in an industry with a solid future.

Recent reports of an ethanol bust may be greatly exaggerated.

Sure, the fuel has seen its price tumble in the last few months. Spot prices for a gallon of the stuff in Chicago went from about $2.30 five months ago to about $1.50 today, according to numbers from the Oil Price Information Service. In 2006, ethanol briefly sold for over $4 a gallon.

Plus the price of corn, the raw material for most ethanol produced in the U.S., has nearly doubled since the start of 2006. This one-two punch has hit shares in ethanol companies - Verasun (Charts) has lost about half its value over the last year, as has Pacific Ethanol (Charts).

The drop in ethanol's price has been attributed to too much product on the market, the result of overeager investors pouring money into the sector and new plants springing up across the Midwest.

But ethanol is unlikely to remain in oversupply for long, thanks to ongoing investments in bringing the product to market, a renewable energy bill that calls for expanding ethanol's use and a base price that's now about 50 cents less than gasoline....MORE

If it all turns to dung, I may want to remember another another headline; From Fortune via CNN Money:

Hot job: Selling Web ads
A shortage of online advertising sales reps has led to bidding wars, lavish perks, and fat salaries, reports Fortune's Jessi Hempel.

In the 1967 classic The Graduate, the Mr. McGuire distilled his career advice for the young Benjamin Braddock into one word: Plastics. Were he to corner young Ben in New York City today, he'd probably use three words: online ad sales.

A shortage of salespeople in Silicon Alley and beyond has led to bidding wars, perks, and salaries not seen since the feeding frenzy over Silicon Valley engineers first began in 1999.

Why the huge demand? For one thing, even as the outlook for the broader economy appears shaky, web companies are aggressively expanding their ad operations to New York....MORE