It's no secret that the energy sector has gotten crushed during the past year, as oil prices have collapsed. But a small set of stocks is on the other side of that trade.
Eight stocks in the enjoy noticeable negative correlations with crude. These names, which might be termed anti-oil stocks, are at least somewhat inclined to rise when oil falls, and fall when it rises.
Unsurprisingly, the biggest of the anti-oil names are the airlines, for whom crude oil products are a serious input. At the top of the anti-oil list is United Continental, which has enjoyed a -0.27 daily correlation with oil over the past year. Despite this, the airline stock still managed to lose more than 10 percent in 2015.
Correlation, a measure of the relationship between two data series (such as asset price moves), runs from -1 to 1. A measure of 1 indicates perfect correlation, -1 indicates exactly negative correlation, and 0 indicates no relationship whatsoever.
While one can find ways to make sense of these negative correlations, these last names on the list have such a weak relationship with oil that it is almost not worth investors' time to think about.
The airlines have negative correlations with oil over long time periods for an obvious reason, but the other stocks on the list do not; each appears to have a positive correlation with crude over the past five years.
On the other side of the market, the stocks most correlated with crude oil enjoy (or suffer) a tighter relationship with the commodity. For example, 12 S&P 500 stocks have had a one-year correlation with oil above 0.6.
This goes part of the way toward explaining why the S&P as a whole has a significant positive correlation with oil — somewhere around 0.3 over the past year, five years and 10 years.