This year has been one of the most volatile in the history of the oil market. After starting in the mid-$60s, the main U.S. oil price benchmark, WTI, plummeted into negative territory following the dual shockwaves of the COVID-19 outbreak and the collapse of Russia's market support agreement with OPEC. Oil has since bounced back quite a bit. It recently recovered into the mid-$30s after OPEC and Russia made amends in a big way, and governments started easing the economic restrictions to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Crude oil could have much further to go if demand continues bouncing back, which means oil stocks seem to have a lot of upside from here. Three that stand out are ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP)Enbridge (NYSE:ENB), and Phillips 66 (NYSE:PSX). Here's why they top the list of the best ones to buy this month.

A drilling rig surrounded by oil pumps at sunset.

Image source: Getty Images.

Ready to turn the taps back on

U.S. oil giant ConocoPhillips has taken several actions to preserve its balance sheet strength and profitability. It slashed its capital spending, suspended its share repurchase program, and shut-in unprofitable wells. These actions demonstrate the flexibility of its business model to react quickly to changes in crude pricing.

ConocoPhillips' production curtailments will impact its output during the second quarter. However, it made sense to shut in those wells and hold the production until prices improve. As that happens, the company can restart those wells and quickly cash in on the rebound. That catalyst could catapult its stock, which has lost about a third of its value this year. That lower price point makes ConocoPhillips stock look especially attractive when considering its near-term catalyst and long-term plan to create shareholder value

Immune to all the volatility

Canadian pipeline giant Enbridge doesn't have any direct exposure to oil prices, so the market downturn hasn't had much impact on its financial results or operations. While the company did defer $1 billion Canadian ($740 million) of expansion projects, it expects its financial results to come right in on its budget since long-term, fee-based contracts back the bulk of its earnings.

With cash flow on target, Enbridge has the funds to pay its nearly 7%-yielding dividend as well as finance the majority of its expansion program. Because it can easily cover the remaining gap with its strong balance sheet, Enbridge should have the fuel to continue growing its earnings and dividend. With shares now about 15% cheaper following its sell-off earlier this year, its long-term growth catalysts as more expansion projects come online make it a great buy this month.

Bouncing back with demand

Shares of refiner Phillips 66 have lost about a quarter of their value this year. That's primarily because the demand for refined products like gasoline and jet fuel has plummeted as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. That slump in consumption took a huge bite out of the company's earnings during the first quarter.

However, demand for gasoline has started bouncing back as states reopened their economies. That trend could become even more pronounced this summer. Some analysts believe that gasoline demand could skyrocket as consumers stay away from mass transit like subways and airlines and instead opt to drive everywhere, including taking "staycations" to beaches, lakes, and parks. That potential for record gasoline demand could boost Phillips 66's profits, fueling a big rally in its stock price. 

A compelling combination

All the volatility in oil prices this year has caused most oil stocks to lose value, leaving investors to buy shares of several top oil stocks at lower prices this month. Add in their clear catalysts as pricing and demand bounce back, and these stocks have the potential to enrich investors as the oil market continues its recovery from the COVID-19 outbreak.


This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.