Has oil become the new sin stock? A new report from BCA Research shows that, to some people, investing in oil has a slightly dangerous, controversial allure, according to an article in Chief Investment Officer.
Other sin stocks include tobacco, cannabis, firearms, alcohol, and gambling, and those sectors have outperformed the wider market in the U.S. by 28% over the last 50 years. Meanwhile, they’re 8% cheaper than the rest of the market. And because these entities have stringent government restrictions regulating who gets in and who doesn’t, competition isn’t as fierce as other sectors and consolidation is a frequent occurrence, the article explains.
That’s also true of major oil companies, many of which had begun scaling back their capital spending even before the Russian invasion of Ukraine upended the industry. That’s resulted in strong earnings and soaring stocks: Exxon Mobile is up 43% and Chevron is up 45%. And given the affordability of their price/earnings ratios (P/E)—Exxon is at 16 and Chevron is at 21 while the S&P 500 is 25—it’s hard to argue against buying oil stocks from purely a monetary viewpoint.
However, climate-minded institutional investors are divesting from oil stocks—a move that gives the stocks an even steeper discount, making them more attractive to investors more likely to buy sin stocks. The article includes a quote in the BCA report from Cliff Asness, founder of AQR: “How does the market get anyone, perhaps particularly a sinner, to own more of something? Well, it pays them! In this case through a higher expected return on the segment in question.”