Energy ETFs: Bargains Or Falling Knives?

The price of crude oil has fallen nearly 25 percent since June and last week hit its lowest level in years. The increase in supply from the U.S. shale boom, slowing demand around the globe and the rise in the U.S. dollar created the perfect storm for lower energy prices.

As the commodity's price fell, it led to investors taking the energy stocks out to the wood shed and thus pushed many stocks to multi-year lows. Any ETF related to energy has suffered along with the fall in the sector, leaving investors torn.

One camp believes energy ETFs are now at attractive levels for long-term buying opportunities. The other side sees oil falling into the $70s, if not $60s, which would suggest another big swoon for energy stocks.

Nobody knows where oil will eventually bottom out; regardless, it might be time to start looking at the carnage left from energy ETFs.

Related Link: 4 Alternative Energy ETFs To Consider

A Closer Look At Specific Energy ETFs

Energy Select Sector SPDR ( ETF ) (NYSE: XLE ) lost 24 percent from the high in late June to the low hit last week. The ETF had not traded at such levels since June 2013. After hitting a low of $77.52, the ETF started to attract buyers as investors moved back into equities at the end of last week. The ETF nearly reached $86 by Friday before closing well off the intraday highs.

The ETF is a basket of 45 stocks from the U.S. oil sector. Top holdings are Exxon Mobil Corporation and Chevron Corporation. The ETF charges a 0.16 percent expense ratio and pays a 2.1 percent dividend.

The Market Vectors Oil Services ETF (NYSE: OIH ) took an even bigger hit, falling nearly 30 percent from the July 1 high.

The ETF is highly concentrated in two positions, Schlumberger Limited and Halliburton Company, which account for one-third of the portfolio. The remaining 24 holdings are also in the oil service niche sector that has been hurt by the sluggish rig business.

The ETF has found some support at the $41 area; however, a lack of follow-through last week could suggest the rally will be short-lived.

One of the ugliest charts the last few months has been the First Trust ISE Revere Natural Gas ETF (NYSE: FCG ). The ETF lost 44 percent of its value from the high in June to the low of last week.

The issue with natural gas stocks is that a drop in energy prices could lead to a slowdown in the fracking boom. There is a price level when the removal of oil and natural gas from the ground becomes economically unattractive, this could lie somewhere between $65 and $85 per barrel of oil.

This fear of a fracking slowdown has driven FCG below support at the $14.11 area before attempting a bounce in the last few days. If the ETF fails to hold the $14.11 again, it will likely signal a new, lower trend.

© 2014 Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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