Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Does the Weakness in Oil Tanker Stocks Tell Us Anything About the Direction of Oil Prices? (FRO; GMR; NAT)

Time was when a sharp young analyst could watch tanker stocks for an early warning of the direction of oil prices, the thinking being that the stocks were a leveraged bet on the oil biz.
After the tip-off a couple discreet calls to check the direction of day rates would pretty much tell the truth about the direction of, and more importantly, turning points in, oil prices.
No more.
Everybody and his sister started playing the game and the indicator became less and less predictive.

That's a long intro for what is going to be a short post that won't answer the headline question.
The indicator is now approximately a coin flip so you have to be able to interpret the action, relying more on experience/pattern recognition which itself is fraught with dangers. (you see what you want to see).

I'll come back to this group in more detail in a few days, for now what caught my attention was the largest of the group, Frontline, hitting a series of 52-week lows.

All three companies have corporate level issues in addition to any macro stuff affecting the stocks. The classiest is probably Nordic American, the highest risk/hopefully highest upside, General Maritime.
Here's Frontline:

Nordic American:

And General Maritime:

More to come.