The 8 anti-oil stocks

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 S&P 500 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.

Following United Continental on the list comes the rest of the airline stocks in the S&P: Southwest, American and Delta.

After that, the fifth-most-negatively correlated stock has a far weaker relationship with the commodity. Natural gas distribution company AGL Resources enjoys a -0.06 correlation with crude oil.

1-year daily correlation to crude oil
United Continental -0.268
Southwest Airlines -0.264
American Airlines -0.218
Delta Air Lines -0.201
AGL Resources -0.086
Royal Caribbean Cruises -0.076
Consolidated Edison -0.062
Realty Income -0.061

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.

Rounding out the list of least-correlated names with oil are Royal Caribbean Cruises, electricity utility company Consolidated Edison and commercial REIT Realty Income.

Read MoreThe oil companies that could be in big dividend trouble

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.

Read More Want to bet on an oil bounce? Here's how to do it


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Michael Santoli

Michael Santoli joined CNBC in October 2015 as a Senior Markets Commentator, based at the network's Global Headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, N.J.  Santoli brings his extensive markets expertise to CNBC's Business Day programming, with a regular appearance on CNBC's “Closing Bell (M-F, 3PM-5PM ET).   In addition, he contributes to CNBCand CNBC PRO, writing regular articles and creating original digital videos.

Previously, Santoli was a Senior Columnist at Yahoo Finance, where he wrote analysis and commentary on the stock market, corporate news and the economy. He also appeared on Yahoo Finance video programs, where he offered insights on the most important business stories of the day, and was a regular contributor to CNBC and other networks.

Follow Michael Santoli on Twitter @michaelsantoli

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