Mike Wilson Likes Energy Stocks

Is it late-cycle? Does a hard landing loom? Or is the US economy on the cusp of re-accelerating, or at least dodging a recession on the way to a prolonged period of steady growth? Nobody knows, least of all the Fed. If you ask Morgan Stanley's Mike Wilson, it's best to avoid answering such questions until there's more clarity, and one way to exercise caution is via a barbell of defensive growth (so, compelling idiosyncratic growth stories and traditional defensives, including Healthcare) and la

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10 thoughts on “Mike Wilson Likes Energy Stocks

  1. I like energy stocks, was very overweight in 2H21 and ‘22, still overwt in ‘23. Consumption of oil, natgas, coal is not going down, the producers have discipline, investment is getting pulled back, and commodities tend to work during inflation.

    At some point, fossil fuel consumption will peak. I think you can look at increasing EV penetration and renewable energy investment and make some educated guesses of when that might be. IEA thinks about 2030; I haven’t done the work and have no idea if that’s reasonable, but feels like it isn’t going to be 2050+. Price might keep revenues going for a while after that, but the stocks will front run the peak.

    When I value the stocks, I use negative terminal growth rates, and I look for high FCF and dividend yields.

    Basically I think we may be enjoying the autumn of fossil fuel stock investment, but the goodbye will be long and, for a while, profitable.

    Hopefully renewable energy will become investable. I’ve looked at solar, wind, etc – repeatedly – and found very little to buy, among US names anyway. Well, there’s one EV name but it seems to fall squarely outside of my “style”.

    1. The IEA’s forecast is more bearish than I’d thought. See IEA report https://iea.blob.core.windows.net/assets/6ff5beb7-a9f9-489f-9d71-fd221b88c66e/Oil2023.pdf

      “Growth in world oil demand is set to lose momentum over the 2022-28 forecast period as the energy transition gathers pace, with an overall peak looming on the horizon. Led by continued increases in petrochemical feedstocks, total oil consumption growth will remain narrowly positive through 2028 as usage rises to 105.7 mb/d, 5.9 mb/d above 2022 levels.

      Crucially, however, demand for oil from combustible fossil fuels – which excludes biofuels, petrochemical feedstocks and other non-energy uses – is on course to peak at 81.6 mb/d in 2028, the final year of our forecast. Growth is set to reverse after 2023 for gasoline and after 2026 for transport fuels overall. These trends are the result of a pivot towards lower-emission sources triggered by the global energy crisis, as well as policy emphasis on energy efficiency improvements and the rapid growth in electric vehicle (EV) sales.”

      The IEA thinks that the OECD’s oil demand may peak this year, while India and China’s demand will continue growing.

    2. On the supply side, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, sanctions therefor, and dimming opportunities for Western oil companies in Russia and in the Middle East have lit off a push for new sources in non-OPEC+ places where supermajors can still lead – Algeria, Guyana, Nigeria, Azerbaijan, etc. While US production stagnates and OPEC+ restricts supply, very significant increases in production are coming from those fields. Maybe more on the gas side, but offshore oil too.

      I can see a scenario in a couple years where this new supply growth collides with slowing-then-peaking demand. Assuming the OPEC+ countries will have failed to develop an economic alternative to oil and gas, which seems highly likely, cartel cohesion may not last.

      Hopefully I’ll be out of energy names by then.

      Reminder to self: fossil energy is a years-long-trade, but not a buy-and-sit-on.

      Reminder to self: you’re never the first, and often among the last, to see things.

      1. I hope that Algeria, etc. (which are already corrupt dictatorships that are jailing dissidents and creating ties with Russia/China), don’t join OPEC+++

        1. I speculate that countries where production is led by Western oil company consortia are less likely to join OPEC while countries where production is directly under the government’s control are more likely.

  2. I find it extremely frustrating that the US energy policy is causing inflation for the Americans and simultaneously enriching the authoritarian, anti-American, dictatorships around the world.
    Even though I have made some money on oil stocks- it hardly seems worth it.

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