Earnings season is back, and following the energy master limited partnerships (MLPs), which had the first positive quarter since 2014, the energy sector is likely to have some winners when they post results. While oil prices have backed off some from the recent $50 level, the rise off the February lows was substantial and could provide some tailwind for some of the top energy companies.
A new Deutsche Bank research report notes that despite some near-term headwinds, the firm expects a decent quarter from most U.S. oil exploration and production companies. Like many on Wall Street, Deutsche Bank team expects the refiners to have the most issues, but they have three top companies that they are very positive on going into the earnings reports.
This company is expected to have a substantial portion of its total 2016 production in natural gas. Devon Energy Corp. (NYSE: DVN) an independent energy company, primarily engages in the exploration, development and production of oil, natural gas and natural gas liquids (NGLs) in the United States and Canada. It operates approximately 19,000 wells. It also offers midstream energy services, including gathering, transmission, processing, fractionation and marketing to producers of natural gas, NGLs, crude oil and condensates through its natural gas pipelines, plants and treatment facilities.
Devon’s extensive and very diversified portfolio is primarily composed of unconventional resources and reflects significant long-term growth potential. Consistent investments made by the company over time are helping it to sustain its strong performance despite like many energy giants, having to lower exploration and production budgets for 2016.
Devon investors receive a 0.6% dividend. The Deutsche Bank price target is $45. The Thomson/First Call consensus target is $42.18, and the shares closed Tuesday at $40.01.
This company is a leading integrated oil and gas firm with extensive upstream operations. Marathon Oil Corp. (NYSE: MRO) operates through three segments. The North America Exploration and Production segment develops, explores for, produces and markets crude oil and condensate, NGLs and natural gas in North America.
The International Exploration and Production segment explores for, produces and markets crude oil and condensate, NGLs and natural gas in Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, Libya and the United Kingdom, as well as produces and markets products manufactured from natural gas, such as liquefied natural gas and methanol in Equatorial Guinea.
The Oil Sands Mining segment mines, extracts and transports bitumen from oil sands deposits in Alberta and Canada, and it upgrades the bitumen to produce and market synthetic crude oil and vacuum gas oil.
Top analysts cite the company’s higher multiple businesses, and the upstream cash margins have room to move up as shale production increases and oil prices recover. They also point out the stock trades at a very attractive discount to net asset value relative to industry peers.
Marathon investors receive a 1.28% dividend. Deutsche Bank raised its price target to $20 from $18. The stock closed Tuesday at $15.60.
This is a smaller capitalization company that the Deutsche Bank team likes. Murphy Oil Corp. (NYSE: MUR) operates as an oil and gas exploration and production company worldwide. It explores for and produces crude oil, natural gas and NGLs. The company’s global offshore operations are balanced by a predictable North America onshore business. Exploration activities are focused in four main regions: deepwater Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic margin, Southeast Asia and Australia.
Murphy’s strategy of focusing on unconventional resources in North America while maintaining its global offshore presence has been paying off in a big way. The company’s first-quarter production levels were above expectations due to strong contributions from the Eagle Ford shale in Texas and higher oil production in offshore Sabah, Malaysia, and Canada.
The Deutsche Bank price target is $32. The consensus target is $31.50. Shares closed up big on Tuesday at $32.10, almost 8%.
Deutsche Bank likes these three stocks into the earnings, and all look poised for more upside. Investors may want to buy a partial position just in case the earnings results are a surprise.