Any way you slice it, U.S. oil and natural gas production has fallen, and will continue to fall, as many producers simply can’t make money at current prices and are shuttering wells that are losers. Energy had a solid week last week, boosted by a 12% gain in crude oil and a number of equity financings that were successfully completed to bolster balance sheets. If oil can continue to move higher, the long down trend line could be broken, perhaps by the end of the quarter.
A recent weekly Jefferies report from makes the case that between bigger production declines than expected and a number of additional positives, the overall picture is beginning to look somewhat brighter. The report highlights four stocks that did well last week, and a continued positive trend could bode well for further upside.
Shares of this top company are down a stunning 65% since May of 2015. Anadarko Petroleum Corp. (NYSE: APC) operates through three segments. The Oil and Gas Exploration and Production segment explores for and produces natural gas, oil, condensate, and natural gas liquids (NGLs).
The Midstream segment provides gathering, processing, treating and transportation services to Anadarko and third-party oil, natural gas, and NGL producers, as well as owns and operates gathering, processing, treating and transportation systems in the United States. The Marketing segment markets oil, natural gas and NGLs in the United States, oil and NGLs internationally, and anticipated liquefied natural gas production from Mozambique.
The company’s asset portfolio includes U.S. onshore resource plays in the Rocky Mountains, the southern United States, the Appalachian basin and Alaska; the deepwater Gulf of Mexico; and in Mozambique, Algeria, Ghana, Brazil, Colombia, Kenya, New Zealand and elsewhere.
In December the company once again posted earnings numbers that beat estimates and raised the guidance going forward. In addition to strong performance, it is lowering costs and keeping the balance sheet as clean as possible.
Anadarko investors receive just a 0.51% dividend, after a huge cut. The Jefferies price target is a staggering $70, and the Thomson/First Call consensus target is $65. Shares closed Monday at $37.95.
Pioneer Natural Resources
Many Wall Street analysts love this stock for a pure crude oil play, though recently it was upgraded by Deutsche Bank and Citigroup. Pioneer Natural Resources Co. (NYSE: PXD) engages in the exploration and production of oil and gas in the United States. The company produces and sells oil, NGLs and gas. It has operations primarily in the Permian Basin in West Texas, the Eagle Ford Shale play in South Texas, the Raton field in southeastern Colorado and the West Panhandle field in Texas.
Pioneer is a huge player in the Permian and Eagle Ford, and it owns more than 20,000 locations in the world’s second largest oil reservoir in the Midland Basin. Wall Street analysts were very positive when the company reiterated annual production growth guidance of 15% or more while cutting the number of rigs expected to operate. With a stellar balance sheet and the new capital from a recent secondary offering, the company is poised to remain the number one player in the Permian.
The company posted an adjusted net loss that was smaller than Wall Street analysts’ consensus estimates. Revenues also came in slightly higher than street expectations.
Pioneer investors receive a 0.07% dividend. Jefferies has a $142 price target, but the consensus figure is at $165.21. Shares closed on Monday at $120.53.
This stock has been absolutely mauled, down a gigantic 84% since the summer of 2014. Encana Corp. (NYSE: ECA) engages in the development, exploration, production and marketing of natural gas, oil and NGLs in Canada and the United States. It owns interests in plays such as the Montney in northern British Columbia and northwest Alberta; Duvernay in west central Alberta; Clearwater in central and southern Alberta; Deep Panuke in offshore Nova Scotia; Cadomin/Doig in northeast British Columbia; Horn River in northeast British Columbia; and Granite Wash/Doig in northwest Alberta.
Jefferies is bullish on the company and recently elevated the stock to the Franchise Picks portfolio, which represents the highest conviction stocks at the firm. The company reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter 2015 earnings on improved crude volumes. The bottom line was also better than in the first quarter of 2015.
The $8 Jefferies price target is higher than the consensus target of $7.77. The shares closed Monday at $4.29.
This is a natural gas play for investors looking for one of the top companies in that sector. Range Resources Corp. (NYSE: RRC) is an independent natural gas, NGL and oil company engaged in the acquisition, exploration and development of natural gas and oil properties in the United States. It owns 7,582 net producing wells and approximately 1.4 million net acres under lease in the Appalachian region, as well as 653 net producing wells and approximately 383,000 net acres under lease in the Midcontinent region.
The company’s fourth-quarter adjusted earnings came in much higher than the consensus expectations, but total revenue for the period missed the Wall Street estimate. Last year Range Resources had just over $900 million in capital expenditures, which was higher than its 2015 capital expenditure guidance of $870 million.
The Jefferies price target is set at $38. The consensus target is $35.59, and shares closed Monday at $23.73.
Needless to say, the energy sector could still be in for some very difficult times as the overall global production is still too much for the markets to absorb. That said, some of the Middle East countries are running huge monthly deficits at current prices, and a definitive production cut may improve not only pricing, but get the huge short interest to loosen up.