As the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and non-OPEC producers agree on reducing oil supply to stabilize global prices, the once troubled shale oil industry is getting pumped up. Investors can capitalize on the potential growth in U.S. shale through targeted exchange traded fund strategies.
OPEC’s deal to reduce oil production has triggered a strong rally in crude oil prices after energy prices plunged over the past two years. The oil cartel originally let production flow in an attempt to squeeze out competitors, namely the upstart U.S. shale oil industry, as low prices would become unprofitable for costlier hydraulic fracturing or fracking companies.
However, over the past two years, with shrinking profits and huge layoffs, many have grown more efficient in their belt-tightening phase and are now in a position to grab back market share at the expense of their foreign competitors. While OPEC is cutting back to alleviate price pressures, U.S. fracking companies could jump to capitalize on the windfall as crude oil prices jump back above $50 per barrel – according to U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, shale oil producers can get by with oil at just over $50 per barrel due to advancements in technology and drilling techniques that have helped cut down costs.
Hydraulic fracturing companies have been among the hardest hit during the sell-off in the energy markets. However, these same companies may be among the best performers in a rebounding crude oil environment. Investors interested in capturing the potential growth in the fracking industry have a number of broad ETF options available.
For starters, the VanEck Vectors Unconventional Oil & Gas ETF (NYSEArca: FRAK) may be a pure play on this energy segment as FRAK focuses on companies involved in the exploration, development, extraction, and/or production of unconventional oil and natural gas. Unconventional oil and gas includes coal bed methane, coal seam gas, shale oil, shale gas, tight natural gas, tight oil, tight sands, in situ oil sands, and enhanced oil recovery.
FRAK also includes a hefty 54.5% tilt toward large-cap companies, which helps balances out its large 41.5% position in mid-sized companies. However, the large-cap weight may hold back the ETF if small-caps continue to rally in the current pro-domestic growth environment.
The SPDR Oil & Gas Equipment & Services ETF (NYSEArca: XES), which follows a more equal-weight methodology, could also benefit from the quick pickup in the shale industry. Fracking companies are constantly drilling new wells to replace lost production, which could drive up demand for energy equipment and services.
Additionally, the PowerShares S&P SmallCap Energy Portfolio (NasdaqGM: PSCE) provides a close play on shale oil companies, focusing on small-cap exploration, production, services and equipment companies. PSCE’s largest holding, PDC Energy (NasdaqGS: PDCE) 17.4%, has shale oil operations in the Wattenberg Field and the Utica Field. However, due to its small-cap focus, the fund is much more volatile than its peers.
The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.