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After struggling the last couple years, oil stocks are finally rebounding.

It's time to pick up shares of Halliburton (HAL) - Get Halliburton Company Report , U.S. Silica (SLCA) - Get U.S. Silica Holdings, Inc. Report , or exchange traded funds like VanEck Vectors Oil Services ETF (OIH) - Get VanEck Oil Services ETF Report  ,iShares U.S. Oil Equipment & Services ETF (IEZ) - Get iShares U.S. Oil Equipment & Services ETF Report and SPDR S&P Oil & Gas Equipment & Services ETF (XES) - Get SPDR S&P Oil & Gas Equipment & Services ETF Report .

Despite their lofty valuations, these stocks are still good investments because of the potential for solid earnings growth in the "under-owned" oilfield services sector this year.

U.S. oil stocks took a bad beating early last year when energy explorers started cutting spending. But those companies bounced back in the second half of 2016 and will continue growing their earnings, particularly since the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) agreed to cut production. That action should boost prices. 


Halliburton, the $47-billion oil and natural gas behemoth, is expected to grow revenue by over 20% in 2017. The company saw a big drop in revenue last year but is on track to exceed analyst's expectations in 2017.

Full year earnings per share (EPS) are expected to increase to $1.06 this year according to analysts' estimates. After the company's stock dropped to $32 in early 2016, it has climbed back up over 68% to nearly $55.

The stock may look expensive but with a price to forward earnings ratio of 52 it's cheaper than peer Baker Hughes, which trades at 125 times forward earnings. Halliburton is still well off its all-time high of $67 from 2014, which is a 22% premium to its current price.

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U.S. Silica

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Shares of U.S. Silica, a $4-billion oil and natural gas fracking sand producer, have risen about 280% in the past 12 months. This is due largely to rising oil prices, a turnaround in drilling activity and increased sand use in wells.

Analysts expect U.S. Silica to turn around from an operating loss this year. The company is expected to register a 73% growth in revenues in 2017. This is higher than the expected 54% revenue increase for its competitor Fairmount Santrol.

U.S. Silica, which reported a loss per share of 59 cents in 2016, is projected to report a profit of precisely 59 cents per share this year. The stock trades at 96 times forward earnings in line with peers like Hi-Crush Partners HCLP and cheaper than the 242 times the P/E of Fairmount.

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Oil, Gas and Services ETFs

Investors seeking to tap into the oil sector's earnings recovery can also do so through exchange traded funds (ETFs) like the VanEck Vectors ETF, iShares U.S. Oil Equipment & Services ETF, and SPDR S&P Oil & Gas Equipment & Services ETF. 

The VanEck ETF tracks the MVIS US Listed Oil Services 25 Index. The index consists of the largest, most liquid U.S. oil companies like Halliburton. The ETF allows investors to invest in an already diversified security, which decreases risk while maintaining profit potential.

The fund invests 80% of its assets in the securities that are parts of the fund's benchmark index, giving ETF investors an affordable way to mirror the index.

On the other hand, the iShares ETF tracks the Dow Jones U.S. Select Oil Equipment & Services Index, and invests 90% of its assets in the benchmark index. For many first-time investors, ETFs provide a safer way to make a broad industry play.


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The author is an independent contributor who at the time of publication owned none of the stocks mentioned.