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The signs of volatility this week in oil and natural gas are also sure signs that spring is around the corner. And along with the volatility in the commodities comes volatility in energy equities.

Some skeptics will argue that this is the peak in energy stocks. From where I sit, it is at worst a seasonal blip. It ultimately should lead to a continuation of a longer cycle more reminiscent of what the energy group experienced in the 1970s than of the shorter, more volatile cycles of the past decade.

However, it is fair to argue that the recent run in commodity prices is likely to moderate, and, as a result, so will the run in energy equities. In fact, as winter turns to spring and demand for energy slows with the seasons, prices could even experience weakness.

Still, tight supplies of natural gas and crude oil will continue to create opportunities for investors. For example, exploration and development activity is unlikely to slow as companies continue to pick up the pace of drilling to meet ever-accelerating decline curves. That means more demand for drilling rigs, both on- and offshore.

On shore, companies with leading positions include Nabors ( NBR - Get Report), Patterson-UTI ( PTEN - Get Report) and Helmerich & Payne ( HP - Get Report). A quick survey of the land-rig market suggests utilization of available rigs is at or near capacity and the price at which an exploration company can contract a rig -- known as the day rate -- continues to move higher.

The same is true of offshore rigs. It is becoming more and more difficult for exploration companies to find rigs to drill new prospects without a meaningful wait, sometimes months. In fact, one E&P executive told me this week that waits of three or four months, if not longer, could become a reality in many regions this year. In addition, day rates are moving higher for offshore rigs and many companies are signing contracts to employ a rig for more than one well, another sign that pricing will continue to firm in the coming months.

Companies that should benefit from this trend include, among others:
  • GlobalSantaFe ( GSF)
  • Rowan ( RDC)
  • Transocean ( RIG)
  • Diamond Offshore ( DO)
  • Noble ( NE)
  • Ensco ( ESV)

Seasonality and pricing is an issue many investors will focus on in the coming weeks. And this week's volatility certainly will cause some to question the rally. However, with positive earnings revisions throughout the year still likely for many of the drillers, there is still plenty of profit potential ahead.

Sure, a significant decline in commodity prices might lead to a decline in drilling activity, which would pinch the drillers. But the production decline rates, especially in natural gas, should help re-energize commodity prices and accelerate drilling plans as supply dwindles.

If history holds, you may get a seasonal correction in energy stocks. However, if you drill down on the fundamentals, owning the drillers is still a solid play for energy investors.

Christopher S. Edmonds is vice president and director of research at Pritchard Capital Partners, a New Orleans energy investment firm. He is based in Atlanta. At time of publication, neither Edmonds nor his firm held positions in any securities mentioned in this column, although holdings can change at any time. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. While Edmonds cannot provide investment advice or recommendations, he welcomes your feedback and invites you to send it to cedmonds@thestreet.com.