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Take Advantage of the Sell-Off and Buy Baytex Energy Corp.

It hasn’t been a good few weeks for the price of oil.

After spending the first half of October solidly over $50 per barrel, crude has been sliding hard, falling more than 15% in approximately two weeks. A barrel of West Texas Intermediate trades hands for $43.74 as I write this.

There’s one big reason for the drop in prices, and that’s an increased inventory build. The latest U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) numbers saw a staggering increase in weekly inventories to 14.4 million barrels, which is the largest inventory build since at least 1982.

Needless to say, higher inventories are bearish. That’s basic supply and demand right there.

But, as we all know, the price of oil is extremely unpredictable. It’s constantly moving because of short-term factors, both good and bad. I’m confident these short-term issues will relieve themselves at some point, leaving crude poised to head much higher.

Investors looking to play this move have a few choices. Here’s why I like Baytex Energy Corp. (TSX:BTE)(NYSE:BTE) as a way to invest in oil.

Massive moves

When oil was lower, Baytex would see massive moves as crude would head higher and lower. Since it had costs exceeding $45 per barrel on average, a $5 move in one direction or the other really mattered–especially when oil was below $40.

Now that oil is a little higher, the huge moves are gone. Baytex is moving more in step with the price of crude. Shares are down approximately 15% in the last couple of weeks, mirroring the dip in crude.

Baytex shares have slumped below $5 each, which has been a good entry point over the last few months. Shares seem to find support at that level.

Here at Motley Fool Canada, we think making short-term trades isn’t a sustainable way to create wealth. But at the same time, looking at trading patterns can be helpful even for long-term investors. Buying at the right time can easily add a couple of percentage points annually to a long-term return.

A solid player

Much has been said about Baytex’s debt load. While I agree it’s concerning to see a company with a $1 billion market cap owe close to $1.9 billion, there’s one big reason why I think investors shouldn’t be overly stressed.

None of the debt is short-term in nature. The earliest debt doesn’t come due until 2021, giving Baytex plenty of time to ride out this storm. The company has also negotiated more relaxed covenants from lenders, giving it additional breathing room.

It has also pledged to not increase the debt, even though it has $464 million in unused capacity from a bank loan. All capital expenditures are being funded from internal cash flow.

Baytex has also been hedging its oil production–45% of remaining 2016 production is hedged as well as 44% of 2017’s output. Approximately half of 2017’s natural gas production is also hedged. That has helped take some of the uncertainty out of the stock.

The company has been working hard getting costs down in the Eagle Ford area. The breakeven price is now $30 per barrel in Texas versus $45 per barrel for its heavy oil production in northern Alberta. Almost all of Baytex’s capital-spending budget is being spent in Texas for this very reason.

The bottom line

Baytex is both a solid short-term and long-term investment here. It will move nicely in the short term if crude recovers, and it’s well positioned to weather the long-term storm, even if crude takes its sweet time recovering past $50 per barrel.

The company has done a nice job positioning itself. All it needs is for the commodity to recover.

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Fool contributor Nelson Smith has no position in any stocks mentioned.

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