It’s already bad in the energy sector.

And it may get worse.

Some of Wall Street’s top names are trying to figure out how low the oil price could go.

Speaking on CNBC’s “Fast Money Halftime Report” on Friday, billionaire investor Carl Icahn said that the oil price could fall further because it started to pick up again.

“I don’t think anybody thought it would be this bad because you obviously have the Middle East, Saudi Arabia just keep pumping and pumping and pumping oil,” he said. “And that’s a secular change that you can’t do anything about. It’s a political thing also.”

“I think it will, it could very easily get worse. And eventually, I think it will get better, but it could get worse,” he added.

West Texas Intermediate crude oil closed at $35.36 a barrel on Friday.

It is going to get worse

Icahn’s comments, however, read stronger those of other Wall Street dealmakers.

Oaktree Capital cofounder Howard Marks said last week at the Goldman Sachs Financial Services Conference in New York that there is “nothing intelligent to be said about the future of the price of oil.”

“There will be more pain in that area,” Blackstone co-CEO and cofounder Steve Schwarzman said at the same event. But, Schwarzman added: “I don’t purport to be an energy expert, because virtually every energy expert who purports to be one is wrong almost all the time.” 

sun oil pump glimmer smoke clouds
Pumps draw petroleum from oil wells near homes at sunrise as the cost of crude oil tops $104 per barrel in its surge to new record high prices March 6, 2008, in Signal Hill, California. David McNew/Getty Images


While these dealmakers aren’t sure on where the oil price will bottom out, they are highly confident that the pain in the energy sector will lead to stellar investment opportunities.

Consensus among top dealmakers is that restructurings and bankruptcies in the space will only grow in 2016. US energy companies may be under particularly acute pressure, according to Mike Mullaney, CIO of Fiduciary Trust, an investment manager overseeing $12 billion in stocks and investment-grade bonds, among other products.

‘The greatest energy investing opportunities we’ve ever seen’

“At an all-in cost of production of $60 a barrel or more, many levered frackers are toast,” Mullaney told Business Insider.

For some, that represents a buying opportunity. Distressed-debt investors have struggled to generate returns in the wake of the financial crisis, as an extended period of low interest rates limited the number of companies that have fallen into difficulty. 

With interest rates set to rise in the near future and the price of oil plummeting, some are betting that more companies will find themselves under pressure.

David Rubenstein, co-CEO of the Carlyle Group, said last week that “the greatest energy investing opportunities we’ve ever seen”could lie ahead.

Nobody knows where the price of oil is going,” Marks said. “We have bonds that have gone from 90 to 60 in the last couple months.”

Marks said that it’s not just energy companies that are likely to struggle, and he thinks it could get worse.

I think $37-dollar oil will present a lot of opportunities,” he said Tuesday. “I think $30 will present more.”

david rubenstein carlyle group
The Carlyle Group Managing Director David Rubenstein listens to speakers during the 2010 meeting of The Wall Street Journal CEO Council in Washington, November 16, 2010.


As reported by Business Insider