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Why energy stocks might be a bottom buy here

When it comes to the market's selloff, institutional investors may have already been a step ahead of the rest of us.

A new report looking at the most widely held stocks across institutional funds shows that these investors were dumping energy stocks in huge amounts as early as the second quarter.

The research, which is set to be released Tuesday, also shows that a quarter after Intel cracked the top 20, it's already back out again. In the first quarter, Intel had replaced another chipmaker, Qualcomm, but now both of them have fallen out of the top 20, as of the second quarter—a big sign indicating where things stand right now.

And two oil giants may share the same fate, and slide off the list as well.

The report comes from eVestment, a supplier of data and analytics to institutional asset managers. The company tracks and aggregates more than 2,800 data points on tens of thousands of portfolios, providing unique insight into how different types of market players operate.

Obviously the report, only recently compiled, is based on data at the end of the second quarter, making it a few weeks old at this point. But the insights are intriguing considering the very recent stock market—and oil price—collapse.

The data "could be illustrative of larger trends and things an investor might want to dig into a bit more when making an investment decision," said Mark Scott, an eVestment spokesman.

Royal Dutch Shell had already fallen to the 14th most held stock, well down from its eighth-place position just a quarter before. With energy prices dropping even further in the third quarter, it's totally possible the oil giant will drop off the list completely in the next report.

Another energy name that fell in the second quarter was Chevron, now ranked 20th on the list—right on the cusp of dropping out next time around. If both Shell and Chevron fall out, there won't be a single energy name in the institutional top 20 most widely held for the first time since 2004.

Given that crude prices have fallen as much as 6 percent Monday to fresh 6 ½-year lows, it's hard to expect a bounce back anytime soon. Shell itself expects oil prices to be down for a while, and has cut back on capital expenditures to handle that new reality. Exxon Mobil already has dropped off the second-quarter list, and there's little chance it will be back up again in the third quarter.

The percentage of institutional funds that owned Chevron dropped 40 basis points during the quarter, down to 12.53 percent from 12.93 percent. That may have been a good move because on July 31, after the quarter ended, Chevron reported its worst profit in nearly 13 years. As of Monday, the stock is down about 20 percent alone just since then. On Friday, hedge fund manager Jim Chanos told CNBC that he dislikes Chevron as well, further matching up with the lack of support for energy shares.

But the recent shift away from the energy stocks begs the question of whether they were oversold.

"How can there be no energy companies in the top 20?" wondered Kenny Polcari, director of floor trading for O'Neil Securities. "This could be a big sign that selloff has been overextended."

Read MoreSee how the data compares to last quarter