ExxonMobil and UBS Live Up to Banking and Energy’s Safe Haven Reputation

As headlines for the last month have been dominated by tales of investors getting out of dodge when it comes to risky tech stocks with high valuations, equally important is where they’ve gone for safe haven: banks and commodities.

On Tuesday, oil giant ExxonMobil and investment bank to the 1% UBS proved why they’re seen as desirable landing spots: Exxon posted its best annual profit since 2014, and UBS made the most money since 2006.

Banking on Oil, or Greasing Up Banks

The reason investors have shifted to value stocks in sectors like banking and energy is straightforward. They’re seen as better equipped to benefit from steep inflation levels, which are at four decade highs.

Energy companies have been bolstered by a recovery in oil demand, notably Brent crude prices hit $91 a barrel earlier this week for the first time since 2014. Meanwhile, banks are one of the few sectors set to benefit from coming interest rates hikes designed to tame inflation, which will net them more earnings on loans and investments. Last month, overweight positions on bank stocks rose to 41% of BofA’s clients, according to Bloomberg, nearing an October 2017 record.

It Helps to Have Clients in High Places

Switzerland’s UBS reported Tuesday that it wrapped a great year thanks to the bountiful trading activity of its mega-rich clients and plenty of dealmaking. The bank’s 2021 profit rose 14% to $7.5 billion, the most since 2006 and better than analyst’s expected $7 billion. Not even €650 million in provisions the bank set aside to cover penalties in a French case that alleges it assisted wealthy clients in tax evasion could

To the Victor Goes the Oil

ExxonMobil’s announcement Tuesday that it made $23 billion in 2021 was a complete 180 from the first year of the pandemic, when fuel demand collapsed and the company booked a $22.4 billion loss. The company’s main rival, Chevron, announced a $15.6 billion annual profit last week after losing $5.5 billion in 2020. The International Energy Agency said last month that global oil demand will surpass pre-pandemic levels in 2022, and some analysts have predicted Brent futures could hit $100 a barrell this year.

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