8. Gastar Exploration ( GST) Company Profile: Gastar is an independent energy company, engaged in the exploration, development and production of natural gas and oil in the U.S. and Australia. Share Price: $3.45 (Dec. 2) 2011 Stock Performance: -20% Analyst Consensus: Natural gas stocks have been a speculative play for traders because of the potential for M&A activity. With the stock down 20% this year, Gastar wasn't one of the lucky buyout targets. Analysts, though, say there is plenty of opportunity for a big winner, with 9 out of 12 analysts following the stock rating it a "buy." An average price target of $5.19 would mean a whopping 50% rally in the stock if that came to fruition over the next 12 months. Bullish Case: KeyBanc Capital Markets analyst David Deckelbaum reiterated a "buy" rating and $5.75 price target on Gastar in November, saying that the company's third-quarter production miss obscured the potential for 2012. "The pipeline issues in the Marcellus are temporary and do not affect our longer term thesis on the stock, as we see significant production growth in the Marcellus and Bossier shale plays providing significant upside in 2012 and beyond," Deckelbaum wrote in a Nov. 6 research report.