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DIY investors prepare portfolios for oil price recovery

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DIY investors are positioning their portfolios to benefit from a rising oil price, according to a survey.

Barclays Stockbrokers polled 1,400 of its customers and 66% said they held oil companies, while a further 14% said they are not currently invested in oil stocks but are interested in investing in them.

Despite the overall optimism, one in six said oil stocks did not interest them at the moment.

The collapse in the oil price, driven by oversupply concerns, began in June 2014 when Brent Crude fell from $114 a barrel to a 13-year low of $30 in January this year, and has put significant pressure on oil firms.

Analysts expect this year’s oil major reporting season to be the worst yet.  BP kicked off last week, announcing an 80% fall in profits in the first quarter of 2016.

Clare Francis, savings and investing expert at Barclays, said: “Investors currently seem undeterred by the lagging oil prices and optimistic about the longer term prospects of the stock.”


Having recently recovered to $45 a barrel, the oil price dipped again last week following unsuccessful talks between major global oil producers to ‘freeze’ production.

Darius McDermott, managing director of Chelsea Financial Services, said: “The deal was intended to go some way to redressing supply-demand imbalances that have been pushing down oil prices for the better part of two years, and both the commodity’s futures and energy equities had climbed in anticipation. When an agreement was not reached, they naturally retreated slightly.”

Despite the meeting’s disappointing outcome, McDermott believes supply and demand look to be starting to come back into balance.

“In the US, for example, production has been massively curtailed. The number of oil rigs operating in that country as of last week was 431 – some 500 fewer than a year ago.

“Furthermore, sustained low prices have put such pressure on oil companies that we have seen significantly reduced spending and improved productivity measures in order to survive. So even small increases in the oil price now should have a positive impact on earnings.”

He said the mid-look outlook is “stronger than we’ve seen in some time” and price falls like the one seen last week “could present good buying properties”.

However, he cautions that some analysts believe the oil price decline could have further to go.

“Most of us have probably seen a news article or two in recent weeks speculating oil could go as low as $10 a barrel.”

How to invest

If individual stock picking isn’t for you, an actively managed fund is a good way to go.

According to McDermott, successful investing in energy is as much about avoiding losers as it is picking the winners.

“You want to find a fund manager with the expertise to do both,” he says.

His preferred fund in this space is Guinness Global Energy.

For a broader play, Maike Currie of Fidelity International picks investors Alastair Mundy of the Investec UK Special Situations fund and Alex Wright of the Fidelity Special Situations fund and Fidelity Special Values Investment Trust, who are both are tapping into this theme as well as other contrarian plays such as banks and supermarkets.

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