BOSTON (TheStreet) -- Goldman Sachs (GS), which advised investors to sell oil in April and reversed its stance before prices rebounded a month later, is now the most bullish on four stocks in the industry.The global investment bank is highest on Noble Energy ( NBL), whose shares may rise 50% in the next six months, according to its forecast. Goldman Sachs says Brent crude oil should rise to about $130 a barrel within a year from $114 today, driven by demand in emerging economies.
Exxon Mobil ( XOM), one of the world's largest companies, is integrated oil and gas producer and distributor and also the world's biggest refiner. It is also one of the world's top manufacturers of commodity and specialty chemicals. Due to its operational efficiencies, it consistently delivers higher returns on capital relative to peers and its sheer size gives it leverage in the competition for developable oil projects worldwide. Its current production mix is evenly split between liquids and natural gas. In its latest blockbuster deal, the company announced Sept. 2 that it had entered an agreement with the Russian-government owned oil company Rosneft, to jointly explore and develop oil and gas resources in Russia, the U.S., and other countries. Its strong, steady cash flow assures increasing dividend payments and stock buy backs, even while funding huge capital-intensive projects. Goldman has a six-month $97 price target on its shares, a 33% premium to its current price. Its shares are up 1% this year and 22% over the past 12 months, giving it a $356 billion market valuation.
The only repeat on the conviction list of three months ago is Hornbeck Offshore ( HOS), a provider of offshore supply vessel fleets, which it uses to transport goods and supplies to and from offshore rigs and platforms, primarily in the Gulf of Mexico. It also has a large fleet of tug and tank barges, which mostly transport petroleum. Goldman analysts say the company remains on their list based on the belief "that the recovery in the Gulf of Mexico is under way." They write that "earnings should accelerate sharply over the next few quarters as additional (offshore vessels) go to work. We expect Hornbeck to return to profitability as soon as the fourth quarter." It posted a loss of 26 cents per share in the second quarter. The firm has a $31 price target on its shares over the next six months, a 12% premium to its current price. Its shares have a market value of $751 million. They've been rocketing, gaining 14% in the past month, 36% this year and 79% over the past 12 months.