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In addition, Congress will begin negotiating a new farm bill this year, which could reduce farm subsidies and likewise leave farmers with less money to invest in capital. The current housing construction slump could also put pressure on the company's construction and forestry businesses.


Hess (HES) which is involved in every aspect of crude oil and natural gas from exploration to distribution, has earned a buy rating since August 2005. The company has shown steady top-line growth, with revenue climbing 8.3% to $7.27 billion year over year in the most recent quarter, primarily because of increased production volumes and crude oil prices.

U.S natural gas consumption is expected to grow 2.9%, while demand for crude oil is expected to grow at an average rate of 1.5% annually, largely because of the rising number of automobiles. The U.S. imports more than 60% of its energy requirements from other countries, and this could result in an increase in the transportation of crude oil and natural gas. This trend should benefit Hess. Any unexpected, sharp downturn in oil and gas prices may hurt earnings, however. Exploration disruptions could also harm results.

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