Plains Exploration & Production ( PXP) earned a $36 price target worth a 13% premium at the time of Goldman Sachs' rating. The independent oil and gas company, with a market value of $4.6 billion, is engaged in acquiring, exploring and producing oil and gas fields predominantly in California, but also in Texas, Louisiana and the Gulf of Mexico. Fourth-quarter earnings are due Feb. 24, and are estimated at 31 cents per share, which would bring 2010 earnings to $1.18 per share. For fiscal 2011, analysts estimate that earnings per share will increase 52% to $1.79. Morningstar says the company is on a diversity kick and acquiring assets throughout the world. "Not only has the firm managed to increase production more than 50% during this time, but it has also accumulated many other growth opportunities. All the while, the company has been able to improve its cost structure." Its largest investors are SAC Capital Management, at 6.6%, followed by Soros Fund Management, at 4.8%. A summary of analysts' views collected by S&P resulted in four "buy" ratings, nine "buy/holds" and five "holds." Its shares are up 5.4% this year and rose 16% in 2010.