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Photo: Steven Ferdman/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

CNBC money pundit Jim Cramer is an unlikely new avatar for climate activists with his take on Big Oil's future.

What he's saying: Cramer made waves Friday with his response to ExxonMobil's and Chevron's glum earnings reports. "I’m done with fossil fuels. They’re done," he said, later adding, "We are in the death knell phase" and citing divestments by "a lot of different funds."

  • Cramer said fossil fuels' market prognosis is now untethered from their fundamentals.
  • He cited "new kinds of money managers who frankly just want to appease younger people who believe that you can’t ever make a fossil fuel company sustainable."

Where it stands: It excited divestment advocates like Naomi Klein, Bill McKibben, and Bernie Sanders, who all seized on the comments from an analyst outside the activist ranks.

  • "Why are Wall Street investors getting scared of fossil fuel stocks?" Bernie Sanders tweeted. "Because the climate justice movement is making it clear that political pressure for divestment will not stop. It will only grow stronger."
Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

The big picture: Friday's results sent the stocks of Exxon — already at a decade-low after several tough years — and Chevron downward. It's just the latest sign of the sector's waning market performance.

  • Bloomberg columnist Liam Denning notes that energy's weighting in the S&P 500 index last week fell below 4% for the first time in at least four decades.
  • Exxon fell out of the S&P's top 10 for the first time last summer — a sign of its declining market value, especially relative to other huge corporations.

While climate activists quickly signal-boosted Cramer's comments, it's hardly clear that investors are truly spooked over climate concerns and pressure.

  • A more conventional analysis is that industry woes stem largely from the glut of both oil and especially natural gas in recent years. Chevron wrote down $10 billion in assets in Q4, largely related to gas holdings.
  • "Rising demand, exceeded only by the amount of supply growth depressing prices and shares, is an odd situation to characterize as the 'death knell phase,'" tweeted Jason Bordoff, head of a Columbia University's energy think tank.

Quick take: Axios' Dion Rabouin said poor financial performance — not the environment — is what's really behind the trend of fossil fuel divestments. Check out the chart above.

  • "The oil companies are underperforming, so they're much easier to drop. And because the Dow and S&P 500 haven't dropped them, firms and asset managers can outperform the market and claim it's all an effort to be woke on the environment and sustainability," Dion notes.

Go deeper: Big Oil's big lobbying Q4

Go deeper

How cutting GOP corporate cash could backfire

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Companies pulling back on political donations, particularly to members of Congress who voted against certifying President Biden's election win, could inadvertently push Republicans to embrace their party's rightward fringe.

Why it matters: Scores of corporate PACs have paused, scaled back or entirely abandoned their political giving programs. While designed to distance those companies from events that coincided with this month's deadly siege on the U.S. Capitol, research suggests the moves could actually empower the far-right.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Kaine, Collins pitch Senate colleagues on censuring Trump

Sen. Tim Kaine speaks with Sen. Susan Collins. Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP via Getty Images

Sens. Tim Kaine and Susan Collins are privately pitching their colleagues on a bipartisan resolution censuring former President Trump, three sources familiar with the discussions tell Axios.

Why it matters: Senators are looking for a way to condemn Trump on the record as it becomes increasingly unlikely Democrats will obtain the 17 Republican votes needed to gain a conviction in his second impeachment.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Anthony Coley to lead Justice Department public affairs

Photo: Xinhua/Ting Shen via Getty Images

Judge Merrick Garland, President Biden’s nominee for attorney general, has tapped Anthony Coley, an Obama-era Treasury Department official, to serve as a senior adviser and to lead public affairs at the Department of Justice, according to people familiar with the matter.

Why it matters: As the public face of the DOJ, Coley will help explain — and defend — the department's actions, from sensitive cases to prosecutorial decisions, including the investigation into Hunter Biden.