10 Energy Stocks for Rising Crude

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Petroleo Brasileiro (PBR), BP (BP), Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.A), Apache Corporation (APA), Sinopec (SNP), CNOOC (CEO), Occidental Petroleum Corporation (OXY), Chevron Corporation (CVX), Marathon Oil Corporation (MRO) and Hess Corporation (HES) have an implied 9% to 22% upside, based on analysts' consensus estimates of 12-month price targets.

Crude oil prices broke out above the $100 per barrel threshold on Monday. Although the U.S. gets less than 2% of its oil from Egypt, the political unrest rocking the country could exacerbate and engulf other regional oil producers and heighten supply worries. Brent crude touched $101 per barrel on Monday, going past the $100-per-barrel mark for the first time in the last two years.

We have identified ten energy stocks that are highly rated by analysts, which can provide attractive returns over the next year. These stocks have a market capitalization of at least $30 billion and have a consistent track record. However, we have not included InterOil Corporation ( IOC), JA Solar Holdings ( JASO) and ReneSola ( SOL), although these stocks are poised for returns of around 50%, because of their inconsistent track record and highly volatile stock prices.

The following 10 stocks delivered an average 25% return in 2010, rising in excess of 4% during the last one month on superior fundamentals. The stocks are stacked by upside, great to greatest.

10. Hess Corporation ( HES) is an integrated energy company engaged in the exploration, production, marketing and refining segments.

During 2010 fourth quarter, exploration and production earnings were $420 million, compared with $494 million in the fourth quarter of 2009. However, fourth-quarter results were marred by higher dry hole expenses associated with two offshore exploration wells in Brazil.

Oil and gas production was 420,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day for the December quarter, flat compared to the year-ago fourth quarter. Crude realization price was $71.7 per barrel during the fourth quarter, up from $63.7 per barrel in the fourth quarter of 2009. Global natural gas selling prices averaged around $5.3 per million cubic feet during the fourth quarter of 2010, increasing 2% from the same quarter a year ago. The stock has gained around 35% during the last year and is trading at 11 times its estimated 2011 earnings.

9. Marathon Oil Corporation ( MRO) is a Houston-based oil and natural gas exploration and production company.

During the third quarter, production volumes from the exploration and production segments increased 8% quarter-over-quarter and 3% year-over-year. Norway and Equatorial Guinea contributed substantially toward overall production. The exploration segment performed well after production was ramped up at Jackpine Mine (Canada) during the quarter. Garyville refinery continued to outperform.

Reviewing the performance of the upstream assets, Clarence P. Cazalot Jr., Marathon's president and CEO, said in a press statement, "Given the overall strength of our upstream portfolio, and in spite of a more rapid-than-expected production decline at Droshky, we remain confident in our ability to deliver our previously stated goal of 4 percent compound annual growth rate for upstream production for the period 2008 - 2011."

In addition, management forecasts 5% growth in the upstream portfolio from 2011 to 2012. The stock is trading at 9.3 times its estimated 2011 earnings.

8. Chevron Corporation ( CVX) is a U.S.-based oil and gas major with operations spanning petroleum, chemicals, mining and energy services.

Chevron reported earnings of $5.3 billion for 2010 fourth quarter, an improvement of 71% from the year-ago quarter. The quarterly results included gains from downstream asset sales; however, currency fluctuations were a minor dampener during the quarter. Sales in the 2010 fourth quarter were $52 billion, up from $48 billion in the year-ago period because of higher crude oil and refined products prices. For the full year 2010, earnings were $19 billion, up from $10.5 billion in 2009.

During the third quarter, the company announced the acquisition of natural gas player, Atlas Energy ( ATLS) in the U.S. Watson commented that the company added approximately 240 million barrels of net oil-equivalent reserves in 2010 following the acquisition. The stock is trading at 8.9 times its estimated 2011 earnings and has appreciated around 30% during the last one year.

7. Occidental Petroleum ( OXY) is a U.S.-based oil & gas company with interests in the chemicals industry.

Net income for 2010 fourth quarter was $1.2 billion, compared with $938 million during the same period in the prior year. Net sales were up 15% to $5.06 billion during the same period.

For the fourth quarter of 2010, daily oil and gas production volumes averaged 753,000 barrels of oil equivalent (BOE) -- a volume increase of around 5%, compared to the same period last year. Occidental Petroleum's realized price for worldwide crude oil increased from $71.74 per barrel for the fourth quarter of 2009 to $79.96 per barrel for the fourth quarter of 2010.

Full-year results are impressive. Commenting on the results, Dr. Ray R. Irani, the company's chairman and CEO, said in a press statement, "The 2010 net income of $4.5 billion was 55% higher than 2009 and cash flow from operations was $9.3 billion, a 60% increase from 2009. Our oil and gas production increased 5 percent on a year-over-year basis to a daily average of 748,000 BOE, the largest in Oxy's history."

6. CNOOC ( CEO) is a China-based producer of offshore crude oil and natural gas. It has four offshore production fields in China and operates upstream assets in Nigeria, Australia and others.

The company reported a net production of 88.7 million barrels of oil equivalent for 2010 third quarter, representing a 48.8% increase year over year.

This output growth can be attributed to a ramp up in projects that came on stream since 2009 and contribution from newly acquired projects.

Benefiting from increased oil and gas production, the company's revenue rose 64% year-over-year for the third quarter of 2010.

The company's average realized oil price increased 9.3% year-over-year to $74.15 per barrel for the September quarter, while realized gas price was $3.96 per thousand cubic feet during this period. The stock has outperformed during the last one year, gaining about 63%, and is currently trading at 10.8 times its estimated 2011 earnings.

5. Sinopec ( SNP) is a China-based integrated oil and gas and chemicals company. As China's largest refiner, Sinopec owns eight of the top 10 refineries in the country.

Upstream asset injections from parent China Petrochemical Co. and changes in its refined products' pricing mechanism could be probable triggers for future stock price appreciation.

Puguang Gas Field reported annual production and transportation capacity of around 12 billion cubic meters (bcm). Production is expected to peak to 15 bcm per year after the Yuanba block comes on-stream in 2012. Sinopec's management expects Puguang's main block to hold enough gas for more than 20 years, based on the current production rate of 12 bcm per year.

Beijing's new refined oil pricing mechanism, effective since the end of 2008, has turned Sinopec's refining business around, after incurring losses for several years. Although rising international crude oil prices may hamper refining margins. The stock has gained more than 35% during the last one year and is trading at around 7.5 times its estimated 2011 earnings, at a 25% discount to its closest peers.

4. Apache Corporation ( APA) is a U.S.-based energy company with exploration interests in North America, Egypt, Australia, U.K. and Argentina.

Apache reported a 74% year-over-year growth in net income during 2010 September quarter. Production increased 10% quarter-over-quarter to 667,460 barrels of oil equivalent (boe) per day.

Apache's operations outside North America accounted for 54% of global production. Besides, crude oil and natural gas sales were 54% of global production, or 78% of the company's revenue.

Commenting on worldwide production, G. Steven Farris, chairman and CEO, said in a press statement, "In Australia, the Pyrenees and Van Gogh developments of Apache's Exmouth Basin oil discoveries continued to make significant contributions. We also had higher production in the Permian Basin and Gulf of Mexico as a result of recent acquisitions that will continue to fuel Apache's growth. He added, "In December, after the acquisition activity is expected to be completed, we forecast production to exceed 775,000 boe per day, or 35% above the December 2009 level."

Gaining 15% in the last year, the stock is trading at 10.4 times its estimated 2011 earnings.

3. Royal Dutch Shell ( RDS.A) is a Netherlands-based oil & gas company operating in three business segments: upstream, downstream and corporate.

Revenue during the third quarter increased 20% year-over-year to $92.7 billion, while net income grew 18% to $3.5 billion.

Reviewing the results, Peter Voser, Royal Dutch Shell CEO, said in a press statement, "Our results have rebounded substantially from year-ago levels, driven by some improvement in industry conditions, and Shell's strategy. We are seeing new growth, with improved earnings and cash flow, underpinned by a 5% increase in oil and gas production, a 22% increase in LNG sales and increased downstream volumes. This is a better performance from Shell, achieved despite continued difficult industry conditions in refining and natural gas markets."

During the September quarter, Shell announced the successful start of production of 100 thousand barrels of oil equivalent per day. Net capital investment for the third quarter of 2010 was $10.3 billion -- around half of the investment related to the acquisition of East Resources in the U.S. and the joint acquisition of Arrow Energy in Australia. The stock has gained around 25% during the last year and is trading at 8.9 times its estimated 2011 earnings.

2. BP ( BP) is a U.K.-based oil and gas company operating in two segments: exploration and production, refining and marketing.

Exploration and production includes upstream activities like oil and natural gas exploration, field development and production. The segment contributes around 10% of overall revenues.

Refining and marketing is the largest revenue grosser, contributing around 90%. Overall, revenue grew 10% year-over-year during the third quarter to $74.7 billion on higher realizations. The average realization for total liquids increased to $70.5 per barrel from $63 per barrel in the same quarter last year.

During the third quarter, the company incurred an additional pre-tax charge of $7.7 billion in respect of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The stock has underperformed in the last year and any relief from the U.S. government, in the form of lowering the estimate of the size of BP's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, could be a trigger for stock price movement. The stock is trading at 6.8 times its estimated 2011 earnings.

1. Petroleo Brasileiro ( PBR) is an integrated Brazilian oil and gas company operating in segments like exploration and production, refining, transportation, and marketing of gas and power.

The stock shed about 13% during the last year; however, analysts expect that the stock could outperform going forward. As per analysts' consensus estimates, average gains could be about 22% during the next year.

The company's earnings correlate highly with crude prices; analysts suggest an incremental EBITDA of $500 million and earnings of $300 million for every $1 per barrel rise in reference oil prices.

For the third quarter, earnings before interest, tax and depreciation stood at $8.4 billion, beating analysts' estimates of $8 billion following improved refining margins.

Exploration and production capex stood at $8.8 billion, a two-fold increase from the second quarter. Most of the investments were utilized for pre-salt projects. Overall, experts peg 2011 capex at around $30 billion-$35 billion. The stock is currently trading at 11 times its estimated 2011 earnings.

>To see these stocks in action, visit the 10 Energy Stocks portfolio on Stockpickr.

This commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet guest contributor program. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of TheStreet or its management.

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