Sell This Oil Stock Before the Weekend

Traders should unload NFX ahead of a seasonally bleak period for the commodity stock

Elizabeth Harrow
Feb 15, 2018 at 11:00 AM
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It's already been a challenging start to 2018 for Texas-based oil-and-gas stock Newfield Exploration Co. (NYSE:NFX), with the shares down nearly 19% on a year-to-date basis. But if history is any guide, NFX is on the cusp of more heavy losses in the holiday-shortened week ahead.

According to data from Schaeffer's Senior Quantitative Analyst Rocky White, NFX stands out as one of the worst-performing S&P 500 Index (SPX) stocks in the week following Presidents Day. Over the past 10 years, NFX has managed to close this four-day week higher only 20% of the time, and the equity's average return for the period is a loss of 4.99%.

Based on the security's current price of $25.65, a loss of this magnitude would leave NFX around $24.37 by the time the closing bell sounds next Friday. That would mark a roughly two-year low for the shares, and push them south of the "half-high" level of $25 (based on the December 2016 peak of $50).

From a broader perspective, Newfield stock was rejected in mid-January by newfound resistance at its 80-week and 160-week moving averages, which had previously served as support in the latter half of 2016. These two longer-term trendlines just completed a bearish cross in the mid-30s.

nfx 80-week and 160-week moving averages

From a contrarian perspective, there's a surprising amount of optimism still surrounding NFX -- which could soon unwind to send the stock lower. For example, among options set to expire within three months, calls outnumber puts by more than 2-to-1, with 12,776 calls and 6,288 puts in open interest.

Likewise, analysts are primarily upbeat on NFX. The stock still sports 12 "strong buy" ratings, compared to eight "holds" and zero "sells." This top-heavy configuration leaves plenty of room for future downgrades as the disappointing price trend continues.

Meanwhile, there's some additional event risk baked into NFX shares right now, as the company is slated to report fourth-quarter earnings after the market closes next Tuesday, Feb. 20. In the session immediately following last year's February earnings report, NFX tanked 8% -- nearly doubling its average post-earnings daily move of 4.4% over the last eight quarters.

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