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 (OTC:LINE.Q), Ultra Petroleum (OTC:UPLM.Q), Seadrill (NYSE:SDRL), California Resources (NYSE:CRC), and Unit Corporation (NYSE: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.