Energy market commentary

Energy market commentary: January 2018

The fundamental conditions for the Energy sector have generally strengthened over the past year and this may have positive implications for investors in the sector.

February 8, 2018 | 1 minute read

Data as of January 31, 2018, unless otherwise noted

Performance (total returns)

BenchmarksJanuary 2018YTD
Alerian MLP Index (AMZX)5.76%5.76%
Alerian Midstream Energy Select Index (AMEIX)0.40%0.40%
ICE BofAML U.S. High Yield Energy Index (HY Energy)1.82%1.82%
S&P 500 Energy Index (S&P Energy)3.81%3.81%

Performance data quoted represents past performance and is no guarantee of future results. An investment cannot be made directly in an index.

Energy benchmarks in positive territory: Major energy benchmarks posted positive returns for the month as sentiment and fund flows trended positively. Wall Street firms are ratcheting up oil price forecasts and institutional investors are increasing allocations back to the sector on expectations that energy could outperform the broader market this year. The Alerian MLP Index led the way as MLPs have continued to attract attention on the back of favorable valuations. The large integrated oil & gas companies, which comprise a significant portion of the S&P 500 Energy Index, have rallied as oil stayed above $60/barrel¹ for the entire month and hit highs not seen since late 2014. The ICE BofAML U.S. High Yield Energy Index posted a decent return but is somewhat limited compared to equity indices as energy bonds are trading near par value. The Alerian Energy Infrastructure Index underperformed as Canadian infrastructure companies, which comprise nearly 25% of the Index, were held back as the Bank of Canada hiked rates by 25 bps on January 17,² and as the broader Canadian stock market sold off toward the end of the month. We believe the dispersion of returns and return drivers highlights the importance of a flexible investment strategy in energy.

Oil & natural gas fundamentals holding steady: Oil prices continued a mostly positive march upward, as inventories of crude oil have fallen to just 4% above the seasonal norm for this time of year.³ This is a marked improvement from the 40% surplus reached in 3Q16 at the height of the oil market glut.⁴ Natural gas inventories are also on the lean side, at a 16% deficit to the 5-year average.⁵ Increasing domestic production and higher prices may bode well for North American energy and energy infrastructure companies, as the underlying fundamentals continued to improve.

Key takeaway

The fundamental conditions for the Energy sector have generally strengthened over the past year and this may have positive implications for investors in the sector. Supply/demand balances are on better footing, oil prices have risen, sentiment toward the sector seems to be recovering and we believe energy companies are trading at historically affordable valuations.

Index descriptions: Alerian MLP Index is the leading gauge of energy Master Limited Partnerships (MLPs) and is a float-adjusted, capitalization-weighted index, whose constituents represent approximately 85% of total float-adjusted market capitalization. Alerian Midstream Energy Select Index is a composite of North American energy infrastructure companies and is a capped, float-adjusted, capitalization-weighted index, whose constituents are engaged in midstream activities involving energy commodities. ICE BofAML U.S. High Yield Energy Index is designed to track the performance of U.S. dollar-denominated high yield rated corporate debt publicly issued in the U.S. domestic energy market. S&P 500 Energy Index comprises those companies included in the S&P 500 that are classified as members of the Global Industry Classification Standard (GICS) energy sector.

The indexes referenced herein are the exclusive property of each respective index provider and have been licensed for use by FS Investments. The index providers do not guarantee the accuracy and/or completeness of the indexes and accept no liability in connection with the use, accuracy, or completeness of the data included therein. Inclusion of the indexes in these materials does not imply that the index providers endorse or express any opinion in respect of FS Investments. Visit for more information.

This energy market commentary and any accompanying data is for informational purposes only and shall not be considered an investment recommendation or promotion of FS Investments or any FS Investments fund. The energy market commentary is subject to change at any time based on market or other conditions, and FS Investments and FS Investment Solutions, LLC disclaim any responsibility to update such energy market commentary. The energy market commentary should not be relied on as investment advice, and because investment decisions for the FS Investments funds are based on numerous factors, may not be relied on as an indication of the investment intent of any FS Investments fund. None of FS Investments, its funds, FS Investment Solutions, LLC or their respective affiliates can be held responsible for any direct or incidental loss incurred as a result of any reliance on the energy market commentary or other opinions expressed therein. Any discussion of past performance should not be used as an indicator of future results.

This information is educational in nature and does not constitute a financial promotion, investment advice or an inducement or incitement to participate in any product, offering or investment. FS Investments is not adopting, making a recommendation for or endorsing any investment strategy or particular security. All views, opinions and positions expressed herein are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions or positions of FS Investments. All opinions are subject to change without notice, and you should always obtain current information and perform due diligence before participating in any investment. FS Investments does not provide legal or tax advice and the information herein should not be considered legal or tax advice. Tax laws and regulations are complex and subject to change, which can materially impact any investment result. FS Investments cannot guarantee that the information herein is accurate, complete, or timely. FS Investments makes no warranties with regard to such information or results obtained by its use, and disclaims any liability arising out of your use of, or any tax position taken in reliance on, such information.

Any projections, forecasts and estimates contained herein are based upon certain assumptions that the author considers reasonable. Projections are necessarily speculative in nature, and it can be expected that some or all of the assumptions underlying the projections will not materialize or will vary significantly from actual results. The inclusion of projections herein should not be regarded as a representation or guarantee regarding the reliability, accuracy or completeness of the information contained herein, and neither FS Investments nor the author are under any obligation to update or keep current such information.

All investing is subject to risk, including the possible loss of the money you invest.

Search our site