Natural gas is the topic du jour in the energy world. Even despite the 25% rebound in prices over the past month, natural gas still sits near historic lows and down about 44% from 12 months ago. The effectiveness of fracking as an extraction technique, an unseasonably warmer winter, and companies drilling to hold their acreage have all combined to push supplies higher without the commensurate demand to clear out inventories.
These so-crazy-low-I-can't-believe-it natural gas prices have caused many to start wondering whether natural gas could become a viable fuel source for tomorrow's vehicles. There are a lot of reasons to buy the story; natural gas is cheap, plentiful, and readily available as a domestic resource. It's a win-win-win, and that takes us to our two biggest winners today.
How it's driving markets today
Both Westport Innovations (Nasdaq: WPRT ) and Clean Energy Fuels (Nasdaq: CLNE ) , two of the sector's hottest natural gas stocks, were up big today. Westport was up 7.9% while Clean Energy soared 10.5%. As much as I like to see this, the jump appears to be an overreaction to the news that the Oklahoma Corporation Commission has approved a $2,500 rebate program for residents for the purchase of a natural gas-powered vehicle, or for installing a residential fueling station. While this could be a big domino in the move toward a more sustainable fuel for transportation, I do think it's an overreaction.
I don't expect many other states to quickly take up this policy. Oklahoma's economy is intrinsically linked to the success of natural gas. The state houses natural gas energy juggernauts including Chesapeake Energy (NYSE: CHK ) and Devon Energy (NYSE: DVN ) . Heck, the Oklahoma City Thunder even play in the Chesapeake Energy Arena, which may be the best association with the name right now, since everyone is probably trying to forget the company's poster boy, CEO Aubrey McLendon. That's neither here nor there, though. The point is that this is likely to be a one-off rebate program, and investors shouldn't expect to see many other sates adopt a similar policy in the near future.
One more stable winner
While I'm optimistic on the futures of both Clean Energy and Westport, there is no denying their volatility. Both are highly speculative stocks that swing in exaggerated movements to the market or little pieces of news. It's also worth noting that neither company currently reports a positive net income, either.
Instead, you may want to consider Ultra Petroleum (NYSE: UPL ) . Not only does the company report positive earnings, but as the low-cost provider in a crowded space, it will also be more profitable at lower natural gas prices than the competition. If natural gas prices increase, it will benefit earlier and realize larger gains as a result. And its presence in the Marcellus shale should also allow it to continue upping production should natural gas prices rebound and justify the extra supply.
As good as these natural gas stocks are, there is one energy stock that could be even better. In fact, it could be The Only Energy Stock You'll Ever Need. It's a well-positioned equipment provider that's poised to make investors today rich off the next energy spike. Read more about it.