After taking a pounding for the better part of two years, energy stocks took a big step away from death's door this week. While that was somewhat due to a bit more oil-price stability, the primary fuel behind this week's fierce rally was a glimmer of hope that these companies might not be sliding toward an inevitable bankruptcy after all.
This occurred after news of lenient lenders and a potential big-investor bailout caused short-sellers to flee, sending several oil stocks up triple digits. Leading the way, according to S&P Capital IQ data, were LINN Energy (LINEQ), Ultra Petroleum (UPL), Seadrill (SDRL), California Resources (CRC), and Unit Corporation (UNT).
In some ways, this week's fierce rally in LINN Energy, Unit Corporation, and California Resources were related to news at Ultra Petroleum, after the company announced it had secured a waiver from its lenders that postponed a looming debt maturity, giving it time to restructure its debt. That was seen as a sign of leniency by creditors, which suggests that a bankruptcy wave might not be a forgone conclusion for the weakest links in the sector.
Meanwhile, Seadrill rallied sharply after reports that its Chairman, who owns 24% of its stock, had raised more than $500 million in cash by selling a stake in another company he owned. That fueled speculation that he's getting ready to participate in a bailout of Seadrill, which would also mute its bankruptcy risk.
To learn more about why these stocks moved so sharply, check out the following slideshow.