Oil Stocks on the Rise: Pro-Oil Stance from Trump Boosts Sector

The recent presidential debate between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump has stirred significant movements in the equity markets, especially within the energy sector. Biden’s shaky performance drove sentiment around Trump’s odds of securing a second term in the White House, propelling stocks of private prisons, credit card companies, and health insurance firms.

However, the most notable surge has been in oil stocks, reflecting Trump’s pro-oil policies and the market’s anticipation of potential benefits under his presidency.

Trump’s Pro-Oil Policies: A Catalyst for Growth

Trump’s administration has consistently advocated for deregulation and expansion of oil drilling activities, and a second term could amplify these policies. Last month, Donald Trump told Senate Republicans he would restart oil drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge if re-elected. This promise is seen as a green light for increased oil production, potentially boosting the profitability and growth of oil companies.

Moreover, Trump offered to roll back environmental regulations, hasten permitting and leasing approvals, and enhance tax benefits that the energy industry enjoys if top U.S. oil executives agreed to donate $1 billion for his White House re-election. Lower regulatory hurdles could lead to cost reductions for oil companies, making exploration and drilling more economically viable.

In the wake of the debate, energy stocks emerged as some of the best performers of the S&P 500 index despite a slight dip in Brent crude and West Texas Intermediate prices. Baker Hughes Co. (BKR) led the sector’s rally, with Valero Energy Corporation (VLO), Phillips 66 (PSX), Targa Resources Corp. (TRGP), and Occidental Petroleum Corporation (OXY) following suit.

This recent surge is primarily driven by the market’s reaction to Trump’s potential White House re-election, which is perceived to favor the oil and gas industry significantly.

Top Beneficiaries of Pro-Oil Stance From Trump

Phillips 66 (PSX)

Valued at a market cap of $59.51 billion, Phillips 66 (PSX) is a global energy manufacturing and logistics company. It operates in four segments: Midstream; Chemicals; Refining; and Marketing and Specialties (M&S). The company’s diversified operations could benefit from reduced regulatory pressures and expansion of oil drilling activities supported by Trump’s pro-oil policies.

On May 21, Phillips 66 agreed to acquire Pinnacle Midland Parent LLC from Energy Spectrum Capital in a strategic move to expand its natural gas gathering and processing footprint in the Midland Basin. Pinnacle’s assets encompass the newly built Dos Picos natural gas gathering and processing system: a 220 MMcf/d gas processing plant, 80 miles of gathering pipeline, and 50,000 dedicated acres through high-quality producers in one of PSX’s focus basins. 

Mark Lashier, Chairman and CEO of Phillips 66, said, “Pinnacle is a bolt-on asset that advances our wellhead-to-market strategy and complements our diversified and integrated asset portfolio. Further, this transaction aligns with our long-term objectives to build out our natural gas liquids value chain, be disciplined with our capital allocation and create sustainable value for our shareholders.”

Also, in April, PSX’s Board of Directors approved a quarterly dividend of $1.15 per share, representing a rise of 10%. The dividend was paid on June 3, 2024, to shareholders of record as of the business close on May 20, 2024. The dividend increase demonstrates the company’s confidence in its growing mid-cycle cash flow generation and disciplined capital allocation strategy, which includes maintaining a secure and competitive dividend.

Since its establishment in 2012, Phillips 66 has consistently increased its dividend, resulting in a CAGR of 16%. Moreover, the company is well-poised to continue delivering substantial shareholder value by executing its strategic priorities, including returning $13-$15 billion to shareholders via dividends and share repurchases from July 2022 to the year-end 2024.

For the first quarter that ended March 31, 2024, PSX reported revenue of $36.44 billion, beating analysts’ estimate of $33.56 billion. Its adjusted earnings were $822 million, or $1.90 per share, respectively. During the quarter, refining operated at 92% crude utilization. As of March 31, 2024, the company had cash and cash equivalents of $1.60 billion and $3.50 billion of committed capacity available under its credit facility.

Further, Phillips 66, through the successful execution of its strategic priorities, remains committed to increasing mid-cycle adjusted EBITDA to $14 billion by 2025 and returning more than 50% of operating cash flow to shareholders.

PSX’s stock is up around 5% year-to-date and has gained more than 45% over the past year.

Occidental Petroleum Corporation (OXY)

Occidental Petroleum Corporation (OXY) also stands to gain significantly from Trump’s pro-oil stance. OXY is a leading energy company with assets mainly in the U.S., the Middle East, and North Africa. The company’s extensive operations in the Permian and DJ basins and offshore Gulf of Mexico, coupled with potential regulatory rollbacks, could enhance its production capabilities.

Over the past six months, shares of OXY have surged more than 3% and approximately 46% over the past year. Moreover, the stock has already shown positive movement following the presidential debate, reflecting investor optimism.

Last month, OXY and BHE Renewables, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Energy, formed a joint venture for the demonstration and deployment of TerraLithium’s Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE) and associated technologies to extract and commercially produce high-purity lithium compounds from geothermal brine.

By utilizing Occidental’s expertise in managing and processing brine within its oil & gas and chemicals businesses, combined with BHE Renewables’ extensive knowledge in geothermal operations, OXY is exceptionally equipped to advance a more sustainable method of lithium production.

During the first quarter that ended March 31, 2024, OXY posted an adjusted net income attributable to common stockholders of $604 million, or $0.63 per share. Notably, midstream and marketing surpassed guidance for pre-tax income by nearly $100 million. Also, OxyChem exceeded guidance with a pre-tax income of $260 million.

In addition, Occidental’s total production was $1,172 Mboed near the mid-point of its guidance. Solid operational performance drove cash flow from operations of $2 billion and cash flow from operations before working capital of $2.3 billion.

“Operational excellence is fundamental to everything we do at Occidental, and our teams delivered at a high level across all segments during the first quarter of 2024,” stated OXY’s President and Chief Executive Officer Vicki Hollub. “We are executing in all areas of our diversified portfolio and positioned for free cash flow growth.”

Analysts expect OXY’s revenue and EPS for the second quarter (ended June 2024) to increase 3.5% and 26.4% year-over-year to $6.97 billion and $0.82, respectively. Also, the company has topped the consensus EPS estimates in three of the trailing four quarters.

Targa Resources Corp. (TRGP)

With a $29.62 billion market cap, Targa Resources Corp. (TRGP) is a prominent provider of midstream services. The company primarily engages in the gathering, compressing, treating, processing, transporting, and selling of natural gas; transporting, storing, fractionating, treating, and purchasing and selling natural gas liquids (NGLs) and NGL products, like services to LPG exporters; and gathering, terminaling, and purchasing and selling crude oil.

TRGP, with its focus on natural gas and NGLs, stands to benefit from the Trump administration’s favoring fossil fuels. TRGP’s stock has soared more than 14% over the past month and around 52% over the past six months. Moreover, the stock is up nearly 72% over the past year.

Targa recently began operations at its new 120 MBbl/d Train 9 fractionator in Mont Belvieu, TX. Further, construction continues on Targa’s 275 MMcf/d Greenwood II plant in Permian Midland and its 230 MMcf/d Roadrunner II and 275 MMcf/d Bull Moose plants in Permian Delaware. In the Logistics and Transportation (L&T) segment, construction continues on Targa’s 120 MBbl/d Train 10 fractionator in Mont Belvieu, its Daytona NGL Pipeline.

In May, TRGP, to increase production and meet the rising infrastructure needs of customers, announced the construction of a new 275 MMcf/d cryogenic natural gas processing plant in Permian Midland (Pembrook II plant) and the construction of a new 150 MBbl/d fractionator in Mont Belvieu (Train 11).

Moreover, in April, Targa Resources’ Board of Directors declared an increase to its quarterly cash dividend to $0.75 per share, or $3 per share annually, for the first quarter of 2024. This dividend represents a 50% rise from the dividend declared in the first quarter of 2023. The dividend increase indicates the company’s solid financial health and confidence in its continued growth.

In the first quarter that ended March 31, 2024, TRGP’s revenues increased 1% year-over-year to $4.56 billion. Its adjusted operating margin grew 3% from the prior year’s quarter to $622.10 million. Its NGL pipeline transportation volumes were $717.80 million, up 34% year-over-year.

Additionally, the company’s adjusted EBITDA rose 2.7% from the year-ago value to $966.20 million. Its adjusted cash flow from operations was $738.40 million for the quarter.

Street expects TRGP’s revenue for the fiscal year (ending December 2024) to increase 22.9% year-over-year to $19.74 billion. The consensus EPS estimate of $5.36 for the current year indicates an improvement of 46.4% year-over-year.

Bottom Line

The recent debate between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump has underscored the potential for significant market shifts based on political outcomes, particularly within the energy sector. With Trump’s pro-oil policies gaining renewed attention, companies like Phillips 66, Occidental Petroleum, and Targa Resources are well-positioned to capitalize on a supportive regulatory environment and expansion of drilling activities.

As the election approaches, the energy sector’s trajectory will likely remain closely tied to political developments. Investors should remain vigilant and consider the implications of potential policy changes on their portfolios. The solid financial performance and strategic initiatives of PSX, OXY, and TRGP, combined with the potential regulatory shifts under the Trump administration, could drive growth and deliver significant shareholder value in the upcoming years.