Oil prices surged Monday on reports that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, or OPEC, might finally come to an agreement on a production cap due persisting commodity turmoil.
While many industry followers continue to be skeptical of such a deal coming to fruition in September after the organization failed to come to an agreement on the matter in April, some have taken the opportunity caused by a 2-week rally in oil prices to name their top picks in a $55-per-barrel-world.
Chief among those players looking most attractive now that oil has climbed back above $45 a barrel for the first time since July 18 is Midland Basin oil producer RSP Permian (RSPP) .
Following a number of bolt-on deals to bolster its acreage in West Texas' lucrative Midland Basin, RSPP has substantial operational and financial flexibility through 2018, Barclays analysts Jeffrey Robertson and Oswald Cheung wrote in a Monday note.
Moreover, the firm believes RSP Permian has the potential to grow production 30% on an annualized basis at oil prices above $55 per barrel. With the commodity well above $45 a barrel after gaining more than 1.5% early Monday, any action to cap production by the world's leading oil producers in the next month could certainly have the momentum to carry oil near, if not above, the $55 per barrel mark.
And U.S. operators seem to be confident a positive shift in oil prices is coming, as Jefferies analysts Jonathan Wolff, Zach Parham and Michael Hsu pointed out in a Monday note that management teams were outspokenly bullish on oil and gas markets in second quarter earnings calls with the majority pointing to the significant impact underinvestment has had on supply.
Jefferies also sees RSPP as among investors' best bets if oil prices rebound as expected, noting Monday that it feels the greatest stock value is in mid-cap producers. Encana (ECA) - Get Encana Corporation Report, Range Resources (RRC) - Get Range Resources Corporation Report, Rice Energy (RICE) - Get Rice Acquisition Corp. Class A Report and Gulfport Energy (GPOR) - Get Gulfport Energy Corp Report made Jefferies' list of favorites in the oil patch, as well.
Barclays sees RSP Permian pumping out significantly more oil than previously forecasted through 2018, increasing its production forecasts by 21%, 23% and 23% per year, respectively.
Meanwhile, Jefferies notes that RSPP had a very strong second quarter, and says the stock is among its top picks due to the company's core Midland Basin acreage holdings, as well as its ability to accelerate development while maintaining liquidity and financial strength.
Wolff, Parham and Hsu see RSP Permian's production growing 39% assuming a 5-rig Midland Basin program in 2017, which it estimates would require about $500 million in capital expenditures---a number that looks favorable versus the company's peers.
Based on the firm's forecasted $57 per barrel crude oil prices in 2017, RSPP trades at a multiple that is in line with larger cap onshore producers, which it notes are growing at a slower pace.
The market seems to agree with analysts, as shares of RSP Permian climbed nearly 3% Monday to nearly $39 per share. The company's shares are up 60% year-to-date.
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