No business sector felt 2015’s turbulent end quite as acutely as energy companies. Following steep drops in oil and gas prices, energy companies had to sharply cut spending -- leading to the greatest drop in capital expenditures of any sector in the fourth quarter of 2015.
As you can see from the chart below, the companies with the greatest decrease in quarterly, year-over-year capital expenditure are largely energy companies, with ConocoPhillips, Apache and Exxon Mobile tightening their belts the most. (Google holding company Alphabet also slashed spending, but that was part of an effort to show investors that Alphabet was becoming more financially disciplined.)
Still, energy companies also had the farthest to fall of any sector. In the past five years, their capex increased the most, as they ramped up spending on shale exploration and production. With oil now around $30 a barrel, that kind of investment growth is, for now, a thing of the past.
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