Oil prices have been depressed for two years, and the falling price has pushed some oil stocks below $1 per share, making them penny stocks. However, the International Energy Agency has predicted an end to the world oil oversupply in 2017, and OPEC has entered into two agreements to limit production levels. These developments have pushed oil above $50 per barrel. (See also: OPEC Hints at Further Production Cuts in May.)
The Energy Information Administration (EIA) has issued a forecast for oil prices of $52 to $53 per barrel throughout 2017. If that prediction holds true, some beaten-down oil stocks may rise above the $1-per-share mark.
The fact that these low-priced energy stocks have survived the oil slump may speak to their resilience. They were chosen based on their longevity and potential to profit from higher oil prices, as well as the EIA’s prediction for higher natural gas prices through 2017. All figures are current as of February 27, 2017.
EnerJex Resources Inc.
EnergJex (ENRJ) is listed on the New York Stock Exchange. It was a $10 stock in 2013, but has since fallen to $0.43 per share as of this writing. The slide occurred at the same time most energy stocks fell, suggesting the drop in oil prices was to blame.
ENRJ makes its living producing oil and gas through leases in Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska, and Texas. The company has been paring its net operating income losses for the past four quarters.
With a market cap of $2.61 million, this is definitely a small oil company, but for those looking to invest in turnaround stocks, ENRJ could head back toward its previous price if oil continues to rebound.
Petro River Oil
The stock price for Petro River Oil (PTRC) saw a dramatic drop since 2013, and is now around $1.00 a share. With a 52-week high of $2.90, the stock could have some potential for significant returns to investors if it takes advantage of rising oil prices. The company develops oil internationally, with a presence in Oklahoma, California, Ireland, England and Denmark. The company uses 3D seismic analysis to find oil resources.
PTRC has shown increased cash reserves in the past 5 quarters, so it could be in a position to acquire assets to take advantage of higher oil prices.
Exco Resources Inc.
Exco Resources (XCO) is another penny stock currently trading on the New York Stock Exchange. It dropped below $1 per share in late December of last year. Operating income turned positive in the last quarterly report on September 30, 2016. Total revenues have been increasing for the past four quarters.
The consensus recommendation from analysts is a “sell.” However, the company gets 90% of its revenue from natural gas, and positive forecasts for that commodity in 2017 bode well for the company. It has consistently beat analysts’ earnings estimates in recent quarters.
Vanguard Natural Resources LLC
The stock price for Vanguard Natural Resources (VNR) started moving sideways at the end of 2016.
The company has been swimming in debt, and is trying to restructure that debt to keep out of bankruptcy. It is also selling assets, delaying drilling and seeking lending sources other than traditional banks. (See also: Vanguard Warns Cash Flow Won't Cover Debts.)
This is one that will require due diligence. Watch for the debt restructuring news to see if the stock responds positively. The risk here is well above average, even for penny stocks.
Vanguard has been beating analysts' earnings expectations lately.
The Bottom Line
There is a saying among investors that goes, “a rising tide lifts all boats.” The rising tide of oil prices won’t lift a leaky boat. Penny oil stocks on this list have seen better days. They are not startups, they are has-beens. In other words, these plays are for those who see significant odds that the companies can turn around.
To be sure, the drop in oil prices was not the fault of any of these companies, but that doesn’t change the fact that they will have to make some quick moves to reverse their financial fortunes.