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5 Energy Stocks T. Boone Pickens Loves Right Now

Stocks in this article: ECA EXC VLO NRG CPN

EnCana

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Canadian natural gas exploration and production firm EnCana (ECA) is having a strong year in 2012. While the S&P 500 has climbed around 4% so far this year, EnCana has driven performance of more than double that, up 8.35% since the first trading day of January. The firm owns reserves of approximately 14.2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas equivalent spread throughout North America, positioning that makes EnCana one of the biggest nat gas names in the industry.

BP Capital Management bought 936,000 shares of EnCana in the most recent quarter, an $18.4 million position that makes ECA a full 10.5% position in Pickens' portfolio.

Nat gas has been under a lot of pressure in the last several years, with prices for the energy commodity scraping along the bottom of a multi-year range since prices topped back in 2008. That's been a problem for EnCana, since the firm needs prices to be economically viable to justify drilling. To counter their woes, ECA has been selling off some assets to generate cash, a practice that isn't ideal at these price levels.

>>5 Blue-Chip Stocks Ready to Boost Dividends

Ultimately, if crude oil stays at the higher end of its range, some substitution from oil to nat gas is likely to occur, and investors like Boone Pickens are counting on it.

To make up for the favor that oil has had over gas lately, ECA has been focusing its drilling on liquids-rich properties that provide bigger revenues for every hour that drilling crews are onsite. Until nat gas rebounds, that's a good strategy for EnCana and its investors.

Income investors should pay special attention -- the firm's 4% dividend yield is a hefty payout, even for the energy sector.

Encana also shows up in SAC Capital's portfolio as of the most recently reported quarter.

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