Company Profile: Gastar Exploration is an independent energy company that engages in the exploration and production of natural gas and oil primarily in the U.S.Share Price: $4.66 (March 29) Stock Performance This Year: 8% Analyst Consensus: Eight researchers have a "buy" rating on Gastar shares, including analysts at SunTrust Robinson and MKM Partners. The other two analysts covering the stock say investors should hold shares. The average analyst price target of $6.06 implies potential upside of 33%. Bullish Case: KeyBanc Capital Markets analyst Gabriele Sorbara maintained a "buy" rating and increased the firm's price target to $5.75 earlier this month after Gastar released fourth-quarter operating results. "We expect Gastar shares to trade at a premium to peers, given the company's healthy balance sheet and growth potential," Sorbara wrote in the March 11 research report. TheStreet Ratings has a "hold" rating on Gastar's stock, saying the company's largely solid financial position and no debt are big positives. However, the ratings model views the company's growth in earnings per share, return on equity and net income as disappointing.