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A Playbill for Energy Earnings

This column was originally published on RealMoney on July 31 at 3:09 p.m. EDT. It's being republished as a bonus for TheStreet.com readers.

Earnings from energy companies will continue to come in at a frenetic pace this week, and with natural gas trading up nearly 40% from recent lows, there is all of a sudden significantly more interest in what energy companies have to say.

Although my message has been consistent over the past several months -- don't get too worked up about short-term weakness in natural gas, because we are just one positive weather event away from higher prices -- the recent acceleration in gas prices is still surprising. It shows just how fragile the natural gas market is likely to be in the coming months.

Just one heat wave, moving west to east, was enough to move natural gas with the force once reserved for major hurricanes and bone-chilling cold. Combined with the outage of a major nuclear plant in Michigan, triple-digit temperatures have pushed natural gas prices close to $8 per million BTU from the mid-$5 range less than two weeks ago.

Among bulls, there is hope a sustained heat wave (some forecasts are calling for up to three weeks of sweltering weather) will reduce the natural gas storage surplus and help stabilize what could be an otherwise volatile gas market until winter.

While there is plenty of summer ahead, higher natural gas prices have repiqued interest in energy stocks. Many readers have asked for a road map to a busy week of earnings reports in the sector, and I'm happy to oblige. Here is a daily guide to numbers to watch:

Monday

There has been a relatively quiet start to the week, but Hercules Offshore (HERO - Get Report), an operator of lift boats and jack-up drilling rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, reported a solid quarter and talked about how tight the market is and its current pricing power.

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SYM TRADE IT LAST %CHG
NSS $26.34 -0.27%
DWSN $4.96 -1.80%
COP $62.84 -0.77%
CHK $15.10 -5.20%
HERO $0.60 0.33%

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