One of the bigger news items recently affecting energy sector exchange traded funds was last week’s news that Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-A) took a stake in Dow component Exxon Mobil (NYSE: XOM), the largest U.S. oil company.
As not only the largest U.S. oil company, but one of the largest companies of any stripe in the world, Exxon is major holding in scores of energy ETFs including weights of over 20% in the Vanguard Energy ETF (NYSEArca: VDE), Fidelity MSCI Energy Index ETF (NYSEArca: FENY) and the iShares Energy ETF (NYSEArca: IYE). [A Buffet Pop for Energy ETFs]
Another noteworthy investor, famed short-seller Jim Chanos, is bearish on national oil companies and major integrateds, like Exxon, calling the companies “value traps.” Chanos has previously sounded a bearish tone on Brazil’s state-controlled oil giant Petrobras (NYSE: PBR), which qualifies as an integrated oil firm. Chanos also said he is short a broad swath of highly leveraged coal companies.
That says investors that want to do their best Chanos impression would do well to avoid the aforementioned oil ETFs as well as the Market Vectors Coal ETF (NYSEArca: KOL). For the risk-tolerant, the ProShares UltraShort Oil & Gas (NYSEArca: DUG) could work as a “be like Chanos” ETF idea. [Leveraged ETFs: Useful, but Require Caution]
The technical outlook for energy sector ETFs could be implying that Chanos is wrong about big oil stocks, at least in the near-term.