Amid the oil drop that has plagued the energy industry since the summer of 2014, Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) has remained the strongest contender. The company has fallen more than 20% since oil prices began to slide, but this pales in comparison to BP and Transocean, which have fallen more than 40% and 75%, respectively, in the same period. However, recent sell transactions by company insiders and a bearish rating from an oil analyst lead some to believe that Exxon is also falling out of favor.
Yesterday, James Spellings and Alan Kelly both shed shares of Exxon. Spellings and Kelly are Vice Presidents of the company, with Spellings also serving as the General Tax Counsel of the company. Spellings sold over $725,000 worth of Exxon shares while Spellings sold over $940,000. Neither of these transactions were scheduled selloffs.
Separately, Dennis Wascom, Vice President of Exxon Mobil, sold over 5,000 shares of the company for an average share price of $78.90 on February 3. The transaction totaled $410,280. Two months ago, Wascom sold off another $200,000 of his shares in the company. Again, neither of these transactions were scheduled selloffs.
This bearish activity comes at a time when experts continue to debate the future of oil prices. The treacherous combination of decreasing demand and oversupply has sent oil prices tumbling, and there is little evidence to show that the trend will reverse soon. Coupled with decelerating production levels in China; the world’s second largest oil consumer; geo-political tensions, and Iran’s return to the oil market, experts have been unable to accurately predict the future of oil. To top it off, OPEC has not budged in altering oil output quotas, which would mitigate the glut.
Insiders aren’t the only ones running from the oil giant. After earnings last week, Edward Westlake of Credit Suisse reiterated a Sell rating on the stock with a $73 price target, marking an 8% downside from current levels. Although the analyst acknowledges that Exxon remains “in the sweet spot on a number of different fronts,” he maintains that the stock is at its full value.
At this point, no analysts are bullish on the stock and it looks like insiders are shying away as well. According to TipRanks, 3 analysts are bearish on the stock and 2 remain neutral. The average 12-month price target on the stock is $79, in-line with current share prices.