This column was originally published on RealMoney on June 20 at 11:58 p.m. EDT. It's being republished as a bonus for TheStreet.com readers.

Energy stocks got ripped apart in the spring correction, along with every other market sector. Even the bullish performance of the crude oil futures hasn't stopped these equities from spiraling through their worst decline in four years. And no one knows if the group hit bottom last week or is headed for another down leg before starting to recover.

But not every oil and gas stock dropped like a rock in recent days. A few stalwarts have gone their own way, holding up well in an extremely adverse environment.

Today, let's look at six of these top performers so you know where to find the best opportunities when the broad sector finally moves higher.

McDermott

(MDR) - Get Report

is a worldwide energy services company. The stock rallied to an all-time high of $49.33 in May and started to pull back.

The monthlong decline to support at the 50-day moving average has been constructive, with longer-term accumulation staying well intact. This is bullish for a summer recovery.

The pattern shows little resistance from current price levels back into a test of the May peak. This is in stark contrast with the vast majority of oil and gas stocks. The lack of overhead supply suggests that price can easily rally above its recent high and start a new leg in its three-year uptrend.

Dril-Quip

(DRQ) - Get Report

designs and manufactures offshore drilling equipment. The Houston-based company hit an all-time high in May and sold off in a seesaw correction. Notice how it's crossed the 50-day moving average eight times in the course of this pullback. This action suggests that price eventually will hold support and move higher.

But narrowing highs and lows recommend caution, because the stock could be in the middle phases of triangle development. This pattern would stall upward progress and yield a longer-term consolidation before price can challenge its 2006 high. The best plan of action for now is to stand aside and let the chart set up a few more weeks.

FMC Technologies

(FTI) - Get Report

designs and manufactures products for energy-related and non-energy-related businesses. The stock peaked at the same time as the first two companies on my list and dropped 12 points in the next two weeks. It then bounced sharply before rolling over into another decline that violated the low of the first down leg.

The stock jumped above the 50-day moving average in last Thursday's rally and rolled over on Monday. The most bullish action right now would be for price to hold above last week's low and move sideways for a week or so. That would set up the next leg in a bull flag pattern that could yield a recovery to the 2006 high later this summer.

Holly

( HOC) transports and refines petroleum products. Notably, its price pattern looks different from those of most of its oil and gas peers. The stock actually hit a new high earlier this month during the weakest phase of the broad correction. It then sold off sharply before bouncing at two-month support in the upper $30s.

The stock needs to rally above the April high of $42.46 or it could drop into a bearish head-and-shoulders topping pattern. Considerable selling pressure on the recent decline reveals active distribution, so the current recovery could fail at or below that price level. These warning signs tell investors to stand aside until the stock develops a better appearance.

Energy Transfer Partners

(ETP)

stores and transports natural gas. The stock rallied to an all-time high just three weeks ago, in the latest leg of a strong uptrend that's been in place for the last eight months. Price then pulled back to the 50-day moving average and bounced last week with the broad market.

Without question, this is the strongest oil and gas stock in my database. It shows no overhead supply and could break out to a new high at any time. The strong volume on last Friday's rally suggests that a bullish move will come sooner rather than later. Look for the next up leg to carry the stock into a test at "round number" $50.

Baker Hughes

(BHI)

is the strongest blue-chip oil stock I can find. It peaked at the same time as most other issues highlighted in this column, but that's where the similarities end. Notice how it rallied back to its 2006 high just two weeks ago, before selling off again. Few of its peers showed similar strength during that volatile period.

This "higher high" is bullish for an intermediate-term recovery. Look for price to hold support above $76 on this downturn and set up for another rally to resistance. The stock might sell off again at that level or consolidate its gains and break out in another uptrend. The performance in the broader oil services group is likely to determine its fate.

At the time of publication, Farley had no positions in the stocks mentioned, although holdings can change at any time.

Alan Farley is a professional trader and author of

The Master Swing Trader

. Farley also runs a Web site called HardRightEdge.com, an online resource for trading education, technical analysis and short-term investment strategies. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. Farley appreciates your feedback;

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