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S&P 100 — Tesla In, Occidental Petroleum Out

Most people who are all familiar with the stock market know the S&P 500 is an important index. According to Wikipedia, it is a “stock market index that measures the stock performance of 500 large companies listed on stock exchanges in the United States. It is one of the most commonly followed equity indices.” The performance of the index is monitored by The Conference Board, a non-governmental organization which determines the value of the index from the values of ten key variables to create its Leading Economic Index which the financial community considers a guide to future economic activity in the US.

What most people aren’t familiar with is the S&P 100, a subset of the larger index, which tracks the performance of the 100 largest stocks in the United States by market cap. The S&P 100 is a capitalization-weighted index whose  members are selected from a broad range of industries. It is considered a reliable indicator of US corporate performance.

On December 21, Tesla will be added to the S&P 500, replacing Apartment Investment and Management. That news has been out for a while and has spurred a sharp upward rise in the value of Tesla shares. Now S&P Dow Jones says Tesla will replace Occidental Petroleum in the S&P 100 on December 21 as well. The move could not be more symbolic of what is happening to oil company stocks as Tesla and clean energy companies begin to flex their financial muscles in the marketplace.

Who would have predicted such a transposition when upstart Tesla first began selling the original Roadster and then the Model S sedan a decade ago? It was unthinkable and many people refused to consider the possibility that Tesla could actually succeed. Others saw what was happening and bought Tesla stock. Those people are now called millionaires. If there is any more fitting epitaph for a once mighty oil giant then being kicked out of the S&P 100 index by an electric car manufacturer, it’s hard to think what it might be.

According to Seeking Alpha, Occidental Petroleum, once one of the leading oil companies in America, has fallen on hard times of late as oil prices have cratered. Recently it announced it had borrowed $2 billion to cover outstanding debts that are due to be paid back in the near future.

As electric vehicles gain in popularity, demand for oil will decrease and push companies like Occidental Petroleum aside. Occidental actually has had the audacity to power some of its oil and gas extraction operations in the Permian Basin with electricity from renewable sources and brag about it, as if doing so makes them more environmentally conscious. Turn out the lights, Occidental, the party’s over for you and your fellow fossil fuel companies and not one moment too soon. We won’t be sorry to see you go away.

How fitting is that the company’s stock symbol is OXY? Just as the drug Oxycontin has wreaked havoc on millions of Americans, the drug of fossil fuels has wreaked havoc on billions of humans and the environment.  The sooner we transition away from oil, gas, and coal, the sooner we may be able to get the problem of an overheating planet under some sort of control.


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Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new."


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