5 Stocks Best Positioned for Huge Potential Spike in Natural Gas

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The gigantic move in the price of oil since the lows printed back in February have not been mirrored by the natural gas market. While West Texas Intermediate crude is up a staggering 60% or more, natural gas still trades right around the $2 level, and that’s the lowest since March of 2012. However, that may be ready to change. Thursday we covered the reasons one analyst feels natural gas will move significantly higher.

In the same research report, Jefferies natural gas analyst Jon Wolff highlights five stocks that he feels are best positioned for what the firm feels could be a huge run up in the commodity over the next year and a half. All five are rated Buy at Jefferies.

Anadarko Petroleum

This top stock is still down a stunning 52% since the highs printed in 2014. 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 NGLs 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, Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, Liberia, New Zealand and other countries. As of December 31, 2014, it had approximately 2.9 billion barrels of oil equivalent of proved reserves.

Anadarko investors receive a miniscule 0.38% dividend. The Jefferies price target for the stock is $56, and the Thomson/First Call consensus price objective is$58.60. Shares closed most recently at $53.20.


CONSOL Energy

The company has almost been cut in half from highs printed last summer. CONSOL Energy Inc. (NYSE: CNX) is one of the largest independent natural gas exploration, development and production companies, with operations centered in the major shale formations of the Appalachian basin.

This integrated energy company in both the United States and internationally operates through two divisions. The Exploration and Production division produces pipeline quality natural gas primarily to gas wholesalers. The Coal division engages in mining, preparation and marketing of thermal coal primarily to power generators, as well as metallurgical coal to metal and coke producers. The company also provides energy services, including coal terminal services, water services and land resource management services.

Top Wall Street analysts point out that company management noted that operations in the Marcellus continue to become more efficient as CONSOL drills longer laterals in more stages and uses more proppant. The efficiency may be helping to drive earnings, which have seen a nice streak of beating estimates over the past half-year. The company’s debt has seen strong outperformance over the past year.

CONSOL investors receive a 0.25% dividend. Jefferies has a $16 price target, which is higher than the consensus target of $14.75. Shares closed Thursday at $15.16.

Gulfport Energy

This is one of the favorites around Wall Street among the smaller more nimble companies, and it is also a member of the Jefferies Franchise Picks portfolio. Gulfport Energy Corp. (NASDAQ: GPOR) is an independent oil and natural gas exploration and production company with its principal producing properties located in the Utica Shale of eastern Ohio and along the Louisiana Gulf Coast. In addition, Gulfport holds a sizable acreage position in the Alberta Oil Sands in Canada through its 24.9% interest in Grizzly Oil Sands.

Gulfport is a favorite of hedge fund managers. In fact, according to Insider Monkey, 36 hedge funds owned positions in the stock late last year. The shares hit some weakness on gas prices and a lower growth outlook, a move lower many believe is overdone and recent stock movement seems to have confirmed. With a multiple in line with peers and an expected ramp-up in production this year, the stock may be a great value at current levels, despite last week’s big rally.

The $33 Jefferies price target is near the consensus estimate of $33.57. The stock closed Thursday at $30.65.

Range Resources

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 just released solid earnings and looks poised to trade higher. The Jefferies price target is set at $43. The consensus target is $35.59, but shares closed Thursday at $40.75.

Rice Energy

This company recently has started to catch some upgrades around Wall Street. Rice Energy Inc. (NASDAQ: RICE) is an independent natural gas and oil company engaged in the acquisition, exploration and development of natural gas, oil and NGL properties in the Appalachian Basin. It operates through two segments: Midstream, and Exploration and Production. As of December 31, 2015, it held approximately 92,000 net acres in the southwestern core of the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania and approximately 56,000 net acres in the southeastern core of the Utica Shale located in Belmont County, Ohio.

The company also has operations in the Upper Devonian Shale located on Pennsylvania acreage. It had 120 net producing wells in the Marcellus Shale, four net producing wells in the Upper Devonian Shale and 19 net producing wells in the Utica Shale. It is also involved in the gathering and compression of natural gas, oil and NGL, as well as the provision of water services to support well completion activities.

Some on Wall Street see the company as a solid takeover candidate and see the potential for 20% or more growth over the next few years. Analysts have also cited the fact that the midstream asset portfolio provides balance sheet flexibility and think that a capital outspend will be required through 2017 to achieve 20% growth.

Jefferies has a $22 price target, while the consensus price objective is $18.31. Shares closed Thursday at $17.57.


Again, the call by the Jefferies analyst is very bullish, as well as somewhat out of consensus. The report also states that the stocks do look pricey and somewhat technically extended. Investors may want to wait for a market pullback to buy shares, or scale buy a small position at first.