In the first quarter, large investors increased their net holdings in oil majors Exxon Mobil Corp., BP PLC, Chevron Corp. and Total SA, but they reduced ownership in Royal Dutch Shell PLC and Equinor ASA, according to filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
M&G Investment Management Ltd. bought 226.2 million shares in London-based BP, while UBS Asset Management purchased 47.4 million shares and T. Rowe Price Group Inc. acquired 33.3 million shares. The overall net change in investor ownership in BP in the first three months of the year was up 275.8 million shares.
In the first quarter, Capital Research & Management Co. purchased 23.7 million shares in Exxon; Managed Account Advisors LLC scooped up 5.2 million shares; and Vanguard Group Inc. obtained 4.7 million shares in the Texas-based company. The net change in ownership in Exxon's shares in the first quarter increased by 38.4 million shares.
Although its production was higher in the quarter and crude oil prices started to recover, Exxon's downstream and chemical sector margins dragged down the company's adjusted earnings 61% on the quarter and 50% on the year to $2.35 billion.
Wellington Management Group LLP bought 10.6 million shares and Janus Henderson Group PLC acquired 4.3 million shares in Paris-based Total, which saw the overall net change in investor ownership rise by 18.4 million shares in the first quarter.
UBS Management purchased 3.0 million shares of Chevron stock, and T. Rowe Price acquired 2.4 million shares. The overall net change in investor ownership in the California-based major during the first quarter was up 11.4 million shares.
At the start of the second quarter, Chevron had been on course to buy Permian heavyweight Anadarko Petroleum Corp. for $52 billion but was ultimately outbid by Occidental Petroleum Corp. Chevron walked away from the deal with a $1 billion breakup fee that it is expected to put toward stock buybacks.
BlackRock Inc. sold 91.1 million shares in Anglo-Dutch major Shell in the quarter, while Vanguard unwound 77.7 million shares and Capital Research liquidated 24.8 million shares in the company. Shell's overall net change in holdings was down 178.1 million shares.
Data from Form 13F filings show large investors were net sellers in Equinor, dumping a total of 13.0 million shares in the company in the first three months of the year. Exiting its stake, Northern Cross LLC sold 11.6 million shares in the Norwegian-state controlled major. DNB ASA ESOP sold 2.6 million shares, while SEB Investment Management AB sold 1.9 million shares.
While many of its peers are focused on expanding operations in the onshore U.S. Permian Basin, Equinor is looking to build out its portfolio in Gulf of Mexico, recently announcing it would acquire an additional 22.45% stake in the Caesar Tonga oil field from for $965 million. The deal will increase Equinor's total interest in the project to 46%.