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Shares of Pioneer Natural Resources (PXD) - Get Pioneer Natural Resources Company Report gained on Thursday after the natural gas exploration company received an upgrade from Mizuho Securities to buy from neutral, as well as a one-year price-target lift of more than 50% from its current levels. 

Pioneer shares gained nearly 3%, or $3.74 a share, to $130.25 in morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange after Mizuho analyst Paul Sankey upgraded his recommendation and raised his price target to $191 from $168 - a 51% increase from Wednesday's close.

Irving, Texas-based Pioneer will announce its third-quarter earnings after the market close on Nov. 5. Analysts polled by FactSet are currently expecting per-share earnings of $2.07 on revenue of $2.4 billion.

Pioneer is focused on hydrocarbon exploration in the Cline Shale, which is part of the Spraberry Trend of the Permian Basin, where the company is the largest acreage holder. The Permian Basin is a large sedimentary basin between western Texas and southeastern New Mexico.

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