Jim Cramer, who once saw oil stocks as uninvestable, explains why he changed his mind

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CNBC’s Jim Cramer on Wednesday offered a defense of his newfound optimism about investing in oil stocks, contending that he changed his mind after concluding the circumstances had evolved.

“From the perspective of a money manager, there’s no shame in flip-flopping. Call me crazy, but when the facts change, I change my mind. I want to make money,” said the “Mad Money” host, who in January 2020 stated that he was “done with fossil fuels” and suggested oil stocks were the new tobacco.

At the time, Cramer expressed a dour outlook about shareholders’ ability to make money in fossil fuel stocks because he believed climate change concerns were keeping young investors away from those securities.

Cramer said Wednesday he thinks his mindset was justified.

“Was I wrong to call them univestable? I don’t think so. Before the bottom in 2020, this group spent years in the doghouse. Of course, that’s no longer the case,” Cramer said, alluding to the fact energy finished 2021 as the top-performing sector in the S&P 500. Energy also is already up about 16% so far in 2022.

Cramer said there’s been two major changes to the oil and gas companies that have helped stocks in the cohort move past their previously lackluster returns. The first is that there is a “whole new attitude” toward efforts to reduce carbon emissions, Cramer contended, pointing to Chevron’s $10 billion investment by 2028 and Exxon Mobil’s recently announced net-zero pledge by 2050.

From an investing perspective, though, Cramer said the more important shift has been that “both the majors and the independents have backed away from that ‘drill baby drill’ mentality.”

“Rather than spending a fortune to flood the market with new supply every time the oil prices go up, they’ve become a lot more cautious. … Their restraint has helped the whole industry catch its breath, and it’s a major reason … why crude’s now at $86 a barrel,” he added, explaining that higher oil prices enable the company to be considerably more profitable.

“I spent years telling you all the problems with the oil industry — from an investing perspective — then these companies addressed every single one of the issues I care about,” Cramer said.

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