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3. Enerplus (ERF)

An interesting small-cap oil and gas play is Canadian-based Enerplus Corp. Enerplus is based out of Calgary and has appealing acreage in Alberta and British Columbia, including an estimated 65,000 acres that are still yet to be developed. Like Devon, it has pursued a strategy to right-size its asset mix and sell off several assets to leave exposure to a more appealing asset base with higher growth potential. The company believes it can boost production by 10% to 15% annually during the next five years.

The stock offers an appealing mix of growth and income potential. The current dividend yield is 8.4% and should appeal greatly to income-minded investors.

Action to Take: When Exxon first announced its acquisition of XTO, the deal hinged on the widespread acceptance of fracking and related unconventional drilling techniques. A couple of years later, the techniques remain somewhat controversial, but are still developing and serving to permanently alter the North American energy industry. Exxon Mobil represents one of the safest ways to play this important secular trend, but more daring investors may want to venture into Devon in the mid cap space and even Enerplus in small-cap territory.

I estimate that these three plays hold the potential for double-digit shareholder gains in each of the next five years, with Enerplus offering the opportunity for investors to pocket much of the growth in the form of an annual dividend yield.

Disclosure: At the time of publication, Ryan Fuhrmann owned no positions in securities mentioned in this article. StreetAuthority owns shares of CHK in one or more if its "real money" portfolios.

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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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