The oil spill from an investor’s perspective – not as bad

The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is not only the most devastating environmental disaster ever in the US, it raises issues around energy policies which continue to evolve. A client note from Russell Investments says energy stocks will continue to reflect the impact of the disaster and investors may well look at opportunities in companies involved in the clean-up effort or alternative energy supply.“The oil spill, environmental concerns and previous periods of soaring oil and gasoline prices have spurred countries, governments and individuals to pursue the development of alternative energy sources and policies,” the note, written by Natalie Miller, Russell’s consulting director of client services, says.

“Whenever disasters strike, stock prices rise and fall. In the case of the April 20 BP oil spill, energy securities immediately felt the impact; they lagged the broader US market by nearly 4 percentage points for the month of May (Russell 1000 Energy Index, –11.6 per cent; Russell 3000 Index, –7.9 per cent), and will continue to reflect the impact of this disaster.”

However, Miller says that the impact for investors with a well-diversified portfolio is likely to be relatively small. The state of the global economy and currency movements are more likely of greater concern, she says.