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3 Energy Stocks Hitting 52-Week Highs: MarkWest, Western Gas, Plains Exploration

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Shares of these three energy companies reached 52-week highs on Wednesday: MarkWest Energy Partners (MWE - Get Report), Western Gas Partners (WES - Get Report) and Plains Exploration & Production (PXP).

MarkWest Energy Partners

The natural gas company raised its fourth-quarter dividend 11 cents to 76 cents a share last month.

"MarkWest is well positioned to benefit from many of the long-term trends in natural gas development via its footprint in growing shale plays in the Woodford, Marcellus and east Texas," Wells Fargo analysts wrote in a Feb. 3 report. "We believe MWE's valuation does not fully reflect (1) its secure distribution, (2) solid liquidity position, and (3) long-term distribution growth potential. About 90% of MWE's distribution is tax-deferred."

Shares of MarkWest hit a 52-week high of $59.14 on Wednesday. The stock's 52-week low of $39 was set on Aug. 8.

MarkWest has an estimated forward price-to-earnings ratio for next year of 21.04X; the average for pipeline companies is 57.34X. For comparison, Kinder Morgan Energy (KMP) has a forward P/E of 33.37X and Oneok's (OKE) is 19.83X.

All nine of the analysts who cover the company rated it a buy.

TheStreet Ratings gives MarkWest an A+ grade with a buy rating and has a $76.24 price target on the shares. The stock has risen 7.28% year to date.

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