Natural Gas Prices Are Soaring, but the Stocks Aren’t. Here’s Why.

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Updated July 21, 2021 7:08 p.m. ET / Original July 21, 2021 2:52 p.m. ET

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A Cabot Oil & Gas earthy state drill successful South Montrose, Penn.

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Natural state prices are soaring to multiyear highs arsenic utmost vigor has caused powerfulness request to spike.

Natural state futures were trading 1.4% higher connected Wednesday, astatine $3.93 per cardinal British thermal units, connected way for their 4th consecutive time of gains. Natural state has jumped much than 53% from the commencement of the twelvemonth and 130% from a twelvemonth ago. Prices are backmost to levels they traded astatine successful December 2018, erstwhile state past traded supra $4.

But lately, stocks of earthy state producers person been deflated. They’re surely not getting anyplace adjacent the aforesaid boost arsenic the commodity. In fact, manufacture leaders similar Cabot Oil & Gas (ticker: COG) and EQT (EQT) person stayed astir level implicit the past 2 months, a play erstwhile front-month state futures roseate by one-third.

John Gerdes, who covers lipid and state producers for MKM Partners, said successful an interrogation connected Wednesday that the comparatively anemic show of earthy state equities wasn’t surprising, arsenic they commercialized based connected the terms of longer-dated futures. While futures expiring successful the adjacent period oregon 2 whitethorn fluctuate based connected near-term dynamics similar the weather, banal investors are much acrophobic astir what the marketplace mightiness look similar successful 18 months oregon more, fixed that the companies volition yet person to woody with a much normalized terms environment, helium said.

The futures expiring successful April 2023, for instance, commercialized astatine $2.69. “Gas stocks person been reasonably good anchored astatine this $2.60 to $2.70 range,” Gerdes said. “They didn’t spell down arsenic much, they haven’t moved up arsenic much.”


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In the adjacent term, prices are being pushed higher by blistery upwind that is causing much radical to usage their aerial conditioners. Natural state is the largest root of energy successful the U.S. today. And proviso hasn’t caught up to demand, causing inventories to driblet successful the U.S.

The higher prices whitethorn assistance induce producers to extract much state and for consumers to usage little successful the adjacent term. But earthy state besides trades connected longer-term dynamics and existent prices whitethorn not clasp if the coming wintertime turns retired to beryllium a mild one, and if accumulation starts to outpace demand.

In addition, there’s a statement going connected present astir whether earthy state is simply a “bridge fuel” that tin assistance pave the mode for the U.S. to trim c emissions, oregon whether it should beryllium rapidly phased retired successful favour of renewables. If earthy state is considered a cardinal portion of energy procreation for decades into the future, producers could beryllium successful for years of growth. But more-aggressive clime policies could mean state gets phased retired overmuch sooner.

Nonetheless, Gerdes believes there’s accidental successful the stocks now. He expects that earthy state prices volition extremity up settling higher than the banal prices presently imply, with an equilibrium terms astir $2.80 oregon $2.90 implicit the adjacent mates of years. The companies that helium thinks commercialized astatine the largest discount to their implied worth astatine those gas-price levels are Southwestern Energy (SWN), EQT, and Antero Resources (AR).

Write to Avi Salzman astatine avi.salzman@barrons.com

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