If OPEC Extends Cuts Past June, Top Permian Stocks Could Run Hard

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Late last year when the OPEC and non-OPEC nations got together on the first production cut in years, many people were left snickering as cuts have been tried in the past and the cheating on them was rampant. However this time they have actually worked, with Saudi Arabia and other nations pulling the production throttle back. In an effort to get price back in the $50s and higher, there are some who feel that the cuts will be extended past the June deadline.

With oil trading higher on the rumors, and energy stocks the most reasonable in a very expensive stock market, we screened the Deutsche Bank energy coverage universe for the top Permian Basin stocks that many expect to keep production cranking and take advantage of the OPEC cuts.

We found four companies rated Buy that look like great ideas now.

Concho Resources

Besides being one of the top energy plays in the Permian Basin, this is also a Wall Street favorite. Concho Resources Inc. (NYSE: CXO) is an independent oil and natural gas company engaged in the acquisition, development and exploration of oil and natural gas properties. Its principal operating areas are located in the Permian Basin of southeast New Mexico and West Texas. As of December 31, 2015, its total estimated proved reserves were 623.5 million barrels of oil equivalent.

The company is targeting to deliver 20% oil production growth this year, while investing within its cash flow, a move that many on Wall Street see as very positive. By carefully managing growth and spending, the company looks to be in position to restart the double-digit production growth next year, while many peers are struggling to generate enough excess cash flow to boost output.

The Deutsche Bank price target for the stock is $170, and the Wall Street consensus target is $167.46. Shares closed Tuesday at $127.72.

Diamondback Energy

This is another favorite of Wall Street analysts and another top Permian Basin play. Diamondback Energy Inc. (NASDAQ: FANG) is an independent oil and natural gas company headquartered in Midland, Texas, and focused on the acquisition, development, exploration and exploitation of unconventional, onshore oil and natural gas reserves in the Permian Basin. Diamondback’s activities are primarily focused on the horizontal exploitation of multiple intervals within the Wolfcamp, Spraberry, Clearfork and Cline formations.

Wall Street analysts have noted in the past the company’s top-tier asset base, solid accretive additions and financial discipline, which they think allows for not only continued solid cash flow, but could put the company in play as a takeover target. Diamondback continues to drill some of the most economical wells in the United States as efficiencies improve, costs decrease and activity remains in the better regions.

Earnings estimates for the company continue to go higher, and many on Wall Street feel Diamondback can deliver total 2017 numbers that come in above current consensus estimates.

Deutsche Bank has a $133 price target, and the consensus target is $131.40. The shares closed Tuesday at $102.12.

Parsley Energy

This is a smaller capitalization stock for aggressive investors to consider. Parsley Energy Inc. (NYSE: PE) is an oil and gas producer with 227,000 net acres in the Permian Basin. The majority of acreage sits on the Midland side of the basin, but the company also holds a small acreage position in the Delaware Basin.

The company had 222 million barrels of oil equivalent of proved reserves at the end of 2016, of which 61% was oil. Through strategic acquisitions and acreage swaps, it has grown its acreage position since its initial public offering and has over 7,900 horizontal locations across multiple prospective zones.

The $46 Deutsche Bank price objective compares with the consensus target price of $45.32. Shares closed Tuesday at $30.74.

RSP Permian

This company was one of the production growth leaders in the region over the past two years. RSP Permian Inc. (NYSE: RSPP) is an independent oil and natural gas company focused on the acquisition, exploration, development and production of unconventional oil and associated liquids-rich natural gas reserves in the Permian Basin. The vast majority of the company’s acreage is located on large, contiguous acreage blocks in the core of the Midland Basin, a subbasin of the Permian.

The company caught a string of upgrades from top Wall Street companies last year and many have pointed to the possibility that the company may very well be a potential takeover candidate. Historically a vertical producer, the company has been transitioning to horizontal drilling the past few years. RSP Permian has conducted five acquisitions since its initial public offering in early 2014 and currently has 1,700 horizontal locations across eight prospective zones.

The company posted solid earnings for the fourth quarter, and much of Wall Street is focused on the integration of the company’s recently acquired Delaware Basin acreage.

The Deutsche Bank price target is $52. The consensus target is $53.15, and shares closed Tuesday a $39.09.

With the industry looking to the Permian Basin to provide annual production growth, the analysts do acknowledge that challenges such as higher service costs remain in place. However, they also feel that the environment remains favorable for margin improvement and cash flow growth. Plus, and most importantly, the stocks are as cheap as they have been in some time.