SunTrust Has Contrarian Energy Calls for a Nervous and Expensive Market

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When you combine a fully valued stock market, with an inverted yield curve, and then toss in a big serving of trade issues, topped off by slowing market volume as the summer is all but upon us, you may have a recipe for disaster. The one tailwind the equity market does have is the fact that the yields on government and corporate debt are very low, so bank certificates of deposits are hardly exciting for older investors looking for income.

For a seventh time, the analysts at SunTrust are out with a report they have titled “Where are you different.” The analysts have looked at contrarian ideas that are not widely liked across Wall Street. The report said this when discussing the methodology:

In our seventh edition of this report, we again polled our equity research team to identify stocks where we are truly different. Our 35 publishing analysts identified the most “out of consensus” calls based on ratings, estimates, models and/or theses. We hope that this research piece will initiate conversations with our experienced group of analysts (who on average have 15+ years of industry/sellside/buyside experience and collectively cover 660 + stocks) to help our institutional clients make better investment decisions.

We thought we could cover the energy stocks, as the sector has been way out of favor, and the benchmark price of both Brent and West Texas Intermediate crude have been hammered over the past six weeks, and they really got hit Wednesday. These stocks are all rated Buy at SunTrust.

Marathon Oil

This is a leading integrated oil and gas company 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, natural gas liquids (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.

Marathon investors receive a 1.49% dividend. The SunTrust price target for the stock is $25, while the consensus price objective across Wall Street is $22.02. The stock closed Wednesday’s trading at $13.02.

PDC Energy

This smaller cap name is somewhat off the radar, but it has tantalizing assets for an acquiring company looking to add growth potential. PDC Energy Inc. (NYSE: PDCE) is a diversified exploration and production outfit with assets in the Rockies and the Permian and Utica shales. The company’s core position is in the Wattenberg, with 100,000 net acres, alongside a recently acquired 55,000 net acre position in the Permian Basin.

The company is targeting 10% to 15% production growth in 2020, and operating progress continues with operating expense improving and well cost declining in the Delaware with longer laterals and modified completion design.

SunTrust has a whopping $57 price target that is very close to the consensus target of $57.42. Shares ended trading at $32.04 on Wednesday.