Suncor Energy Suncor Energy ( (SU) isn't your conventional integrated oil giant. Suncor's bread and butter is oil sands, an unconventional source of petroleum that Suncor has been able to convert to conventional crude more effectively than most. Suncor's oil sands currently make up around 60% of daily production capacity, complementing conventional oil and gas production and a portfolio of four refineries in the U.S. and Canada.
From an exploration and production standpoint, oil sands are attractive because they carry less exploration risk than conventional oil wells. Sands are mined, which means that you can literally see the richness of an oil sand deposit. Because sands make up a significant chunk of North America's oil reserves, Suncor's expertise in oil sands development offers the firm a big strategic advantage.
While oil sands carry less exploration risk, they also carry less profitability -- the costs of pulling oil out of the sands aren't immaterial, and that means smaller margins for SU. Even so, those costs are variable, which means that the firm can scale up and scale down its operations without having to risk profitability. In 2009, Suncor merged with Petro-Canada, dramatically increasing the firm's downstream exposure. With a couple years of integration behind it, and sustained high oil prices boosting the firm's returns, Suncor's finances look strong for 2013.
Salesforce.comShareholders of Salesforce.com (CRM) have been enjoying themselves this year -- shares of the $22 billion enterprise software firm have rallied more than 57% since the first trading day of January, easily besting the broad market's returns over that same period. Salesforce makes customer relationship management software, tools that help firms manage their customer Rolodex, marketing efforts, and customer service efforts. With more than 100,000 users, CRM's mission-critical offering gives the firm a big economic moat for shareholders right now.
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