Whiting Petroleum

Description: This $6 billion dollar, U.S. mid-cap shale exploration company drills in the Permian Basin, Rocky Mountains, Gulf Coast and Mid-Continent.

Potential Upside in 2012: About 28%, says Bill Gunderson, president of Gunderson Capital Management.

Stock Price (Jan. 23 Close): $50.27

TheStreet Ratings Grade: Buy. Analysts from TheStreet Ratings team say that the company was able to outpace its typical industry competitor in the third-quarter for net income growth, but not for revenue growth. Stockholders' equity rose 19.89% from the same quarter last year, while the company's liquidity also increased.

Gunderson's View: Gunderson sees a delay of Keystone plans, and therefore Canadian oil imports, as in a sense a setback of competition for this shale company. Gunderson believes that Whiting could easily trade up to the mid-$60 range before the end of the year, adding that the stock, with a price to earnings ratio of 14, is a good bargain.

Whiting's Risks -- Jason Wangler, Analyst at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey: Whiting was 5,000 barrels short on production in the fourth quarter and the company has not yet clarified whether those "lost barrels" will lead to an unexpected production bump this year. "You never get those barrels back," Wrangler cautioned. The analyst will, of course, be paying close attention to the company's upcoming fourth-quarter earnings announcement on Feb. 22 for more guidance on this matter.

Wrangler does point out however that it's quite possible it wasn't the company's fault there was a production shortfall, specifically if it were the case that oil service company workers didn't show up when they said they would. A situation of this sort would highlight the growing difficulty of securing oil service workers due to competitive bidding from exploration and production peers amid the ongoing shale exploration boom.

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