One of Standard & Poor's favorite funds in the natural resources sector, which overlaps the energy sector, is the Franklin Natural Resources Fund (FRNRX). The ratings firm gives it five stars, its highest.
The fund was up 8.7% this year, through March 23, while the average for natural resources funds was a return of 5.8%.S&P mutual fund analyst Todd Rosenbluth said the fund has outperformed its peers over the past year, three years and five years, and has kept the same management team throughout -- a big plus. It also has a much lower management fee, at 1.05%, than the average of 1.6% for other funds in its sector. The fund's top 25 holdings are all energy stocks. One of its top performers this year is Devon Energy (DVN - Get Report), at 3.3% of the portfolio, and sporting a 19% return this year. It has a market value of $40 billion. Devon is one of the largest independent exploration and production companies in North America. It owns conventional oil and natural gas properties as well as oil shale and oils sands projects. In 2010, the company sold over $10 billion in assets, mainly in the Gulf of Mexico, Brazil and Azerbaijan, turning the company into a pure-play, onshore North American company. S&P has a "buy" recommendation on its shares and gives the company a four-star rating out of a possible five. It has a $100 price target on its shares, which are currently trading at $92.87. Analysts' opinions include nine "buy" ratings, 11 "buy/holds," and 10 "holds," according to S&P. Those analysts' estimates show that Devon will earn $6.14 per share in 2001, rising 24% to $7.60 per share in 2012.