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5. Linn Energy (LINE), an independent oil and natural gas company with properties in five regions: Mid-Continent Deep, Mid-Continent Shallow, Louisiana and Illinois, Permian Basin, and California.

In November, the company paid its cash distribution of 69 cents per unit for its third quarter, or $2.76 per unit, on an annual basis. This compares to its first quarter distribution of 66 per unit. Currently, the stock is trading with a dividend yield of 7% and one-year dividend growth of 5.9%, as per data compiled by Bloomberg.

For third quarter 2011, the company recorded net income of $837.6 million, compared to $4.14 million in the same quarter last year. Adjusted EBITDA for the quarter increased 30% year-over-year for the quarter. Net cash provided by operating activities stood at $183 million, vs. $108 million in the year-ago quarter. As of Sept. 30, the company reported strong liquidity position with $1.4 billion.

The company recently announced 2012 oil and natural gas capital program of $880 million, focused on low-risk, high-rate-of-return liquids drilling. LINE is likely to drill or participate in almost 340 wells in 2012. For fiscal year 2012, the company estimates distributable cash flow per unit of $3.30 with a distribution coverage ratio of 1.20 times.

Of the 14 analysts covering the stock, 86% recommend a buy and the rest rate a hold. There are no sell ratings on the stock. Analysts polled by Bloomberg foresee the stock gaining an average 15.8% to $44.22 in the upcoming 12 months.

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