Texas-based oil giant Exxon Mobil Corp. has long been a mainstay in the S&P 500’s Top 10 list, but its tenure as one of Wall Street’s biggest companies is starting to show some cracks. As indicated by month-end company weightings recently published by the S&P Dow Jones Indices, Exxon has been kicked off the S&P 500’s Top 10 list, the first time since the index was conceived 90 years ago.
Visa Inc. has replaced Exxon Mobil as the 10th-largest member of the S&P 500 by weighting on August 1. Two weeks later, American multinational consumer goods corporation Procter & Gamble also overtook the Texas-based oil veteran. Exxon Mobil currently stands as the 12th largest company in the S&P 500, a far cry from its 1st-place ranking in 2009.
Tom Sanzillo, director of the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, noted in a statement to Bloomberg that the oil sector is currently facing challenges, particularly as several regions across the globe seem intent on moving away from fossil fuels. “The oil sector has gone from being the leader of the world economy to a laggard,” he said.
In what could only be described as a sign of the changing times, six out of ten companies in the S&P 500’s Top 10 list are connected to the tech sector. Among these are Microsoft, Apple, and Alphabet, all of which are currently engaged in active programs aimed at embracing sustainability. Apple, for example, uses recycled metals for its premium devices like the MacBook Air and Mac mini, while Microsoft has pledged to cut its carbon emissions by 75% by 2030.
In a segment on CNBC during a particularly volatile time for oil stocks last year, Paul Sankey of Mizuho Securities described a phenomenon known as the “Tesla Effect” that is starting to make its way to the oil industry. “Essentially, the big issue is the so-called ‘Tesla Effect,’ the general ‘End of the Oil Age’ theme that is a problem for these (oil) stocks. The Tesla Effect is the overall concept that (while) the 20th century was driven by oil, the 21st century will be driven by electricity. There’s a 30-year transition, and we’re somewhere probably 10 years into that transition. Ultimately, (the) terminal value of oil has been severely affected by the potential for us to change behavior,” the analyst said.
Exxon’s departure from the S&P 500’s Top 10 list did not happen overnight. While the oil giant was the index’s largest company in 2009, it has seen a steady decline over the past years. Ten years ago, Exxon’s weight in the S&P 500 was a considerable 5%. Today, it is a more far more humble 1%, according to data aggregated by Bloomberg.
Also aggravating Exxon Mobil’s exit from the S&P 500’s Top 10 list is the volatility of oil and gas prices, as well as notable price slumps, and overarching concerns about oil demand. These factors have made the energy sector in the S&P 500 one of the worst performers in recent months. This year alone, the S&P 500’s energy sector is being outperformed by other sectors in the index such as real estate, communications, and consumer staples, among others.