Energy stocks rallied on Tuesday as more Permian-based M&A deals shake up the sector.
"Yes, the Permian buys continue to move the needle," TheStreet's Jim Cramer wrote on Real Money after ExxonMobil (XOM) - Get Exxon Mobil Corporation Reportannounced it was buying assets in the oil-rich basin from the Bass family in a deal worth up to $6.6 billion.
The deal doubles the oil giant's Permian Basin resources to six billion barrels of oil equivalent and includes 250,000 acres of leasehold in the prolific basin.
"We think this is a slight positive for XOM, given that one of the main criticisms of the company is an undersized position in U.S. shale, particularly in the Permian," RBC Capital Markets Analyst Brad Heffern wrote in a research note Tuesday.
The move to build its Permian portfolio does not come as a surprise to BMO Capital Markets Analyst Brendan Warn, as he says it "implies the preference for organic production growth on the Permian as opposed to the acquisition of a bigger Permian operator."
Shareholders seemed to approve of the deal, sending XOM shares higher by nearly 1% on Tuesday.
Although the Exxon deal was about $3 billion larger and overshadowed Monday's news that Noble Energy (NBL) - Get Noble Energy, Inc. Reportwill buyClayton Williams Energy (CWEI) in a $2.7 billion cash-and-stock deal, the Houston-based independent oil and gas company was leading the energy sector, up by more than 6% in midday trading.
This an excellent deal for Noble and is a very strategic move, Cramer said on CNBC's "Mad Dash" segment on Tuesday. Under the terms of the agreement, Noble adds 71,000 net acres to the company's existing Southern Delaware position.
"Clayton Williams has good Permian assets and Noble needs more Permian, where drilling costs can be anywhere from the mid-teens to the low $40s; either is profitable at these levels," Cramer wrote on Real Money.
RBC Capital Markets' Scott Hanold says with the acquisition, Noble established a prominence in the Permian.
"The acquisition of CWEI is accretive and expands Noble's presence in the Southern Delaware Permian," wrote Hanold in a research note. "Importantly, the acreage is adjacent to NBL's position and is undedicated, thereby providing value opportunities to the company's midstream business."
Similarly, Jefferies' Analyst Zach Parham says that because much of the Clayton Williams acreage is next to Noble's current position, it should allow for the drilling of longer laterals.
Cramer says these transactions can cause still one more re-valuation of the group. He favors Cimarex (XEC) - Get Cimarex Energy Co. Report , Concho Resources (CXO) - Get Concho Resources Inc. Report , Pioneer Natural Resources (PXD) - Get Pioneer Natural Resources Company Report and Apache (APA) - Get APA Corp. Report .
"Remember, these companies are going to be able to have production growth that Wall Street will like because of the Permian and remain the best stocks to own in the entire oil and gas market with the possible exception of Halliburton (HAL) - Get Halliburton Company Report and Action Alerts PLUS name Schlumberger (SLB) - Get Schlumberger NV Report ," Cramer said.
For the TheStreet contributor Stephen Guilfoyle, Schlumberger is a "best in class" type of firm.
"Looking at a six-month chart, and granted a do-over, I would have liked to have bought the stock when it cracked $83.10 to the upside," Guilfoyle wrote. "That spot is currently the 50-day simple moving average and acted as resistance throughout the autumn."
Considering that Schlumberger reports quarterly earnings on Friday, Guilfoyle outlined two option trades that could "quickly make you money." SLB shares were rising by 1.7% on Tuesday.
Continuing with technical analysis, Real Money chartist Bruce Kamich says EOG Resources (EOG) - Get EOG Resources, Inc. Report has a "greater probability of making a new high and subsequent strength to around $115." EOG shares were rising by 0.4%, trading at around $105.
Meanwhile, Parsley Energy (PE) - Get Parsley Energy, Inc. Class A Report -- which just completed its own purchase of Permian assets on Jan. 10 -- is likely to "trade sideways over the intermediate term," says Kamich. He anticipates a $32 to $40 trading range for PE, adding that a breakout above $40 or below $32 would likely prompt a re-appraisal. PE shares were down slightly during the trading session.
As producers to flock to the prolific Permian Basin, oil prices will be a key factor for the region that has a relatively low break-even cost.
West Texas Intermediate crude for February delivery settled at $52.48, up about 0.3%, while global benchmark Brent Crude futures declined by nearly 0.4% to $55.47 at 2:30 p.m. ET. A weaker dollar lifted prices of the dollar-based commodity as the U.S. Dollar Index DXY was down by more than 1%. (The DXY measures the value of the U.S. dollar against a basket of foreign currencies.) Although, the early gains in oil eased back following forecasts for record production out of Russia, according to Reuters.
However, as companies look to the Permian now, they may have an easier time expanding their horizons to other oil-rich lands in the future. Rep. Ryan Zinke of Montana, who is the president-elect's pick to run the Department of the Interior, said during his confirmation hearing that he would review President Obama's move to limit oil and gas drilling in Alaska and other parts of the country, according to Reuters.
"The president-elect has said that we want to be energy independent," said Zinke during the hearing. "I can guarantee you it is better to produce energy domestically under reasonable regulation than overseas with no regulation."
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Action Alerts PLUS, which Cramer co-manages as a charitable trust, is long APA and SLB stock.