Analyst Update: ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil, US Steel

Analysts adjusted their ratings on COP, XOM, and X

Dec 9, 2014 at 12:03 PM
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Analysts are weighing in today on energy firms ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP) and Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM), as well as metal magnate United States Steel Corporation (NYSE:X). Here's a quick look at today's brokerage notes on COP, XOM, and X.

  • Flagging crude prices have weighed on energy stocks for some time, and COP is no exception. The shares are off 0.6% today at $64.63, and down 8.5% year-to-date. What's more, the equity has underperformed the broader S&P 500 Index (SPX) by roughly 21 percentage points over the last three months. Accordingly, ConocoPhillips got hit with a pair of bearish brokerage notes, with Jefferies slashing its price target to $78 from $86 (accompanying a "hold" rating) and Credit Suisse reducing its target to $62 from $65 (while reiterating a "neutral" opinion). Additional negative notes could be forthcoming, as well, which could spark a fresh wave of selling pressure. COP currently sports nine "strong buy" recommendations, compared to five "holds" and not a single "sell." Plus, the equity's consensus 12-month price target of $84.62 stands at a 31% premium to current trading levels.

  • Fellow energy name XOM is also slightly south of breakeven, down 0.1% at $91.61, following a price-target cut to $88 from $93 at Jefferies, which also reiterated its "hold" opinion. Longer term, the shares have slid 9.5% in 2014, and underperformed the SPX by 8.3 percentage points during the previous 60 sessions. Meanwhile, traders at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) have displayed a bearish bias in recent months, per Exxon Mobil Corporation's 50-day put/call volume ratio of 1.12. Not only does this reading indicate speculators have bought to open puts at a faster rate than calls, it also ranks higher than 90% of similar metrics from the past 12 months.

  • Like sector peer AK Steel Holding Corporation (NYSE:AKS), X has shrugged off a bearish brokerage note to move higher. Specifically, shares of United States Steel Corporation are up 1.6% to trade at $30.52, despite Cowen and Company cutting the equity's price target to $55 from $60. On a longer-term basis, the stock has advanced less than 4% year-to-date. Turning to the sentiment front, traders have showed a distinct bias for short-term puts over calls lately. X's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 2.57 sits in the 93rd percentile of its annual range.

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