Energy Business

Stifel Raises Targets on Top Energy Exploration and Production Stocks

Despite a constant ongoing debate on Wall Street over the price of oil, the bottom line for investors is that oil prices for West Texas Intermediate continue to hover near the $100 mark. Combine the busy summer travel season, with unrest in the Middle East and continued geopolitical tension with Russia, and all the ingredients are in place for prices to stay elevated. The exploration and production (E&P) analysts at Stifel have noted all the above in a new research report, and are raising targets on their top coverage stocks.

Here are the top Buy-rated E&P stocks at Stifel with increased price targets

Anadarko Petroleum Corp. (NYSE: APC) was the big story recently as the company settled a lawsuit with the U.S. government for a much lower figure than had previously been thought possible. The environmental contamination suit went back decades and removes a huge overhang from the stock. Stifel ranks the stock as one of its best ideas and, like many firms on Wall Street, is bullish on the stock, as it has underperformed relative to the sector. Investors are paid a small 0.7% dividend. Stifel raises its price target on the stock from $87 to $104. The Thomson/First Call consensus price target is $108.97. Anadarko closed Friday at $101.05, up more than 2% on the day.

Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (NYSE: CNQ) is quickly becoming a Wall Street favorite, and it is considered one of the top Canadian oil stocks with the largest reserve base among its peers. The company also recently purchased Devon Energy’s conventional properties in Canada for more than $3 billion Canadian. Investors are paid a 2% dividend. Stifel ups its price target from $38 to $42, while the consensus target is $44.10. The stock closed Friday at $39.73.

EOG Resources Inc. (NYSE: EOG) is another top idea at Stifel. The company is fueling record oil and natural gas production that is revolutionizing the U.S. energy position. EOG’s position in the three biggest tight oil plays makes it a huge player in the E&P field. EOG is the top producer in the Eagle Ford Shale, and it has solid positions in both the Bakken and Permian Basin. Investors are paid a small 1% dividend. Stifel raised its price target on this top name from $100 to $120. The consensus price target is $102.80. EOG closed Friday at $99.77.

Gulfport Energy Corp. (NASDAQ: GPOR) is rated one of the top growth ideas at Stifel. The company’s principal properties are located along the Louisiana Gulf Coast; in the Utica Shale, Eastern Ohio; in the Niobrara Formation, northwestern Colorado; and in the Bakken Formation, Western North Dakota and Eastern Montana. The company reported outstanding earnings late last month, and it has been considered by some a takeover target. Stifel raises its price target to $81 from $73, while the consensus figure is posted at $77.68. Gulfport closed Friday at $70.84.

Newfield Exploration Co. (NYSE: NFX) is in the last stage of executing its strategic decision to sell all of its overseas assets in order to concentrate on its U.S. operations. The sale of the company’s Chinese assets, the last leg of transformation, is expected at the end of 2014. The stock has had an outstanding 2014, up more than 30% year to date. Stifel raises its price target to $37 from $43, and the consensus number is $36.40. Newfield closed Friday’s trading at $32.25.

PetroQuest Energy Inc. (NYSE: PQ) is a small-cap name that may have some big returns. Analysts are raising their earnings estimates for the company, and people are starting to notice. In fact, in the past 30 days, three estimates have gone higher for PetroQuest, while only one moved lower in the same time period. The trend has been pretty favorable too, with estimates increasing from $0.08 a share 30 days ago, to $0.10 today, a move of 25.0%. Stifel ups its price target to $6.25 from $5.25. The consensus target is even higher at $7.04. PetroQuest closed Friday at $5.66.

Southwestern Energy Co.‘s (NYSE: SWN) E&P business has operations in the Fayetteville Shale in Arkansas, the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania, as well as other plays in Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma. The company also is expected to be a big beneficiary of the increase in the price of natural gas, which Stifel sees staying above the $4 mark for the next two years. The firm raises its price target from $45 to $50, while the consensus target is $45.31. Shares closed Friday at $46.77.

Stifel remains bullish on oil pricing with a $95 target for 2014, and we recently made a strong case that mid $90s pricing for oil really should be considered the new normal. With all the factors that seem to be adding up for oil and natural gas, a solid portfolio weighting for the sector should be considered by investors.