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2 Lesser-Known Energy Stocks Ahead of Earnings

Stocks in this article: CLR ATO XOM

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- If you were a stock salesperson and you wanted to sell the masses a great energy company, which one would you choose to solicit?

You might choose Exxon Mobil (XOM) especially now that it's hit a 52-week high and pays a decent dividend. But the medium-term upside potential might be rather limited?

After the market closes on Wednesday, Aug. 8, two smaller, less famous energy companies will report their quarterly earnings, and one has a better dividend yield than the giant XOM.

Let me start with Continental Resources (CLR), the Oklahoma energy company that explores and produces oil and gas in its own backyard and in other regions throughout the U.S.

CLR sells its oil and natural gas production to end users, as well as to midstream marketing companies or oil refining companies at the lease. You might want to carefully scour their interesting Web site and learn why they call themselves, "America's Oil Champion"-- and you thought Exxon held that title!

As of Dec. 31, 2011, Continental estimated their proved reserves were 508.4 million barrels of crude oil equivalent, with estimated proved developed reserves of 205.2 million barrels of crude oil equivalent.

The company had interests in 3,255 wells and served as the operator of 2,082 of these wells. Continental Resources was founded in 1967 and is headquartered in Enid, Okla. They've been around 45 years and they know what they're doing.

At least Harold Hamm believes that, with more money invested in the company than one could imagine. The 66-year old executive chairman and CEO owns a whopping (are you sitting down?) 123,259,048 shares of his own company. Talk about insider ownership!

At around $69-a-share, that means Hamm owns over $8.5 billion, that's "billion," with a "b," of CLR. On May 16 he purchased over $7 million more and paid between $71.51 and $72.21 per share.

Another owner of great conviction is one of my favorite privately owned institutions, FMR (a.k.a. Fidelity Investments). But compared to Hamm, their $702 million dollar stake (8,183,951 shares) pales into some insignificance.

In fact, the percentage of CLR shares held by all insiders and 5% owners is a staggering 76%. For a company with a $12.37 billion market cap where the CEO owns over $8.5 billion (69%), it might be "America's Champion" when it comes to insider ownership.

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