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Apache ( APA), which also shows up on the list of 5 Oil & Gas Stocks Headed Higher in 2012, has been on an impressive run in 2012: year-to-date, shares of the $41 billion oil exploration and production firm have rallied close to 18%. That's thanks in large part to strong earnings performance and sustained high prices for the firm's 3 billion barrels of proven reserves. Right now, the firm is in solid positioning to keep that upside trajectory going.

Apache is one of the most diversified names in the E&P business. The company's reserves span the globe, production methods, and include a mix of both oil and gas. Even though diversification is somewhat difficult to accomplish for an oil company, Apache's risks are about as spread out as they could reasonably be. A conservative balance sheet adds to the attractiveness of this name going forward.

To be clear, Apache isn't a dividend stock in the conventional sense. While the firm has paid out a dividend for the last 46 straight years, its current yield only rings in at 0.64%. Yesterday's 13.33% dividend hike improves Apache's quarterly payout to 17 cents per share, it's still not a material move. Income investors should look elsewhere for an E&P core holding.

To see these dividend plays in action, check out the Dividend Stocks for the Week portfolio on Stockpickr.

And if you haven't already done so, join Stockpickr today to create your own dividend portfolio.

-- Written by Jonas Elmerraji in Baltimore.


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At the time of publication, author had no positions in stocks mentioned.

Jonas Elmerraji is the editor and portfolio manager of the Rhino Stock Report, a free investment advisory that returned 15% in 2008. He is a contributor to numerous financial outlets, including Forbes and Investopedia, and has been featured in Investor's Business Daily, in Consumer's Digest and on MSNBC.com.

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