‘Margin of safety’; accumulate towards a $9 cost basis

Marathon Oil Corp. $11.31

July 13th 2017

Energy has underperformed the S&P 500 by -21% year-to-date. Marathon is down -35% and trades at a 22% discount to tangible book value, despite being relatively well positioned to withstand lower crude oil prices (figure 1).

At 6.2x EV/EBITA (9.0x sector average), there are signs that patient investors will be rewarded by the company’s current valuation.

Tactical Summary

  • Speculative positioning: Speculative positioning is extremely short, for only the third time in 15 years (not pictured). Notably, the current extreme has set a new record, surpassing even the pessimism that surrounded the stock in 2016 when crude oil was trading 40% below current levels. This is a bullish signal for contrarian investors.

  • Patient money flows: Real money investors are accumulating at current levels (not pictured). Although the stock declined further following a similar condition in 2015, the current setup has a coincident extreme in speculative positioning, which was not the case then. The last (and only) time there was similar confirmation was in 2016, when the stock registered a 14-year low before trebling over the next 9 months.

  • Technical analysis: Although momentum is currently negative, the RSI oscillator is oversold on a weekly and daily basis which suggests that price may begin to stabilise (see chart). A new regime of outperformance would be confirmed by a crossing of the two moving averages shown in the ratio chart in figure 6.

  • Trade management: Price is currently around the 61.8% Fibonacci retracement level from the Feb ‘16 low (see chart). With fundamental value present, investors may look to establish a position here and accumulate towards a basis of $9.25, coincident with the 78.6% pivot . Whilst our valuation ‘margin of safety’ would have grown a further 20%, a break below this level would suggest a retest of the 2016 low ($6.50).

Disclaimer: This report is compiled for professional investors and intended for the named person's use only. It may contain confidential, proprietary or legally privileged material. Data is provided for informational purposes and should not be considered sufficient to base an investment decision on. This information should not be regarded as a solicitation or recommendation of any particular security or to engage in any trading strategy.

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