I have read so many articles about banks and investment firms high-tailing it away from oil recently, I hardly pay attention when another crops up in the news. Nonetheless, I admit I almost fell off my chair when I read that the Dow Jones Industrial Average had dumped ExxonMobil. The stock had been on the Dow for 92 years, longer than any other.
Wow! As recently as 2013, Exxon was the most valuable publicly-traded company on the planet. Now a shell of what it was, it has lost $304-billion in market value since peaking at $446-billion in 2014.
To add insult to injury, a renewable energy company, NextEra, now vies with Exxon for the largest market capitalization among U.S. energy and utility stocks. The shift emphasizes the extreme optimism around clean energy and deep pessimism about fossil fuels.
The financial services firm Raymond James reported “In removing Exxon from the DJIA, the index provider is clearly being reactive, and indeed accentuating the extremely negative investor sentiment on just about anything tied to oil and gas.”
And indeed oil and gas are floundering. Energy made up 10.89 percent of the S&P 500 ten years ago, down to 2.5 percent today. Five tech stocks—Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Alphabet and Facebook—are each larger than the entire U.S. energy sector.
A win for Biden in November could give clean energy another boost. He has promised $2-trillion in climate spending which, if approved by Congress, would further favour oil’s nemesis. The big money now is on the green. Investors increasingly want to bet on the solution, not the problem.