The Royal Dutch Shell (LSE: RDSB) share price was one of the best performing FTSE 100 stocks last week. If we extend the time period to look at the past month, it’s up almost 50%. It’s true that the FTSE 100 has enjoyed a strong performance as a whole, but the Shell share price is still outperforming its Footsie peers. What’s been going on here?
Why have Shell shares rallied?
One of the reasons the Shell share price has performed well in the short term is the oil price. Crude oil was trading around $35 at the beginning of the month. Now it’s trading above $45. Historically, there’s been a strong correlation between the Shell share price and oil. After all, the business is what we call “vertically integrated” with oil. This means it’s active in all stages of the process. From exploration projects in oil fields, to refining it and then selling it in different forms.
Therefore, it’s logical that the share price is heavily impacted by the oil price. On top of this, there’s been another external factor benefiting the company. The positive news last week, and in preceding weeks, about several different vaccines proving effective is a huge boost for Shell.
If we rewind to Q2 results, oil products sales volumes were down 39%. This was mostly due to the aviation and retail sectors, as the pandemic meant consumers were staying at home. Demand for oil products simply wasn’t there. Now, if we flip to the prospect of a viable vaccine, flight demand should increase. I wrote a piece recently on how this could benefit the easyJet share price. Indirectly, demand for the refined products Shell offers will increase. This should have a knock on impact via a higher share price.
What would I do now?
The Shell share price still sits at a large discount compared to its level in January 2020. At 1,340p, the January level of 2,200p seen a long way away. So as a long-term buyer, Shell is definitely on my watchlist.
But would I buy today? Perhaps not. In the short term, the reasons causing the rally aren’t really Shell-specific. The oil price and vaccine news benefit lots of other businesses as well. The rally hasn’t come from Shell doing something amazing.
This makes me cautious of investing right now, and so I’m going to sit on the sidelines for the next few weeks. More in-depth Q4 results should be due in January. This, along with guidance for 2021, should give me a clearer picture on whether Shell should be my oil major of choice, instead of BP or other oil-related stocks.
A big driver for me would also be any news about reinstating the full dividend that was cut earlier this year. I remember when I used to own Shell stock, I picked up a dividend yield of 5%-7%. A very generous yield returning would likely further boost the Shell share price as income investors buy the stock.
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jonathansmith1 has no position in any of the shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.