NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Devon Energy (DVN) has bounced back from the drop in oil and natural gas prices faster than most of its fellow shale drillers. Michael Liss, portfolio manager for the American Century Value Fund (TWVLX) , says the company's smart moves during the downturn have set it up for a fantastic run to the upside.
"They got out of their international positions and have strong positions in the Permian Basin, the MidContinent Basin and the Eagle Ford shale," says Liss. "In addition to that, they have a hidden asset of an oil pipeline in Canada. They are going to take that and drop it into an MLP. Then they will take the cash from that transaction and reinvest it into their acreage and be able to produce more oil and gas."
Liss added that Devon's strong balance sheet, combined with its revamped portfolio make for a healthy risk/reward trade off, especially now that energy prices have stabilized. Devon Energy shares are up 2% year-to-date. The company pays a 1.5% dividend. The American Century Value Fund, which holds a 4-star rating from fund-tracker Morningstar, is up 5.3% in the past 12 months.
Staying in the oil patch, Liss is also bullish on French energy giant Total (TOT) due to its sizable 5.2% dividend yield, as well as its smart cash management. "They were one of the first major integrated oil companies to recognize that costs needed to be lower," said Liss. "The price of oil kept going up, but the costs to produce that oil were going up even faster, so they started cutting back on capex about two years ago."
Liss also likes the way Total, which is down 3.5% in 2015, has revamped its portfolio mix by increasing its percentage of long-lived assets.
"Total used to be heavily dependent on short-lived assets, but they have really moved the needle and made the mix of long-lived assets a much larger part of the portfolio. About five years ago, it was 25% to 30%, now it's more like 45% to 50%," said Liss.
"They are going to close on their acquisition of Hospira which will bolster their established product business and also we think they are going to do another branded acquisition and are going to use that balance sheet, that flexibility that they have to really add value by going after another branded player," said Liss.
Finally, Liss is a fan of (GE) as the company is in the midst of transforming itself from a financial giant back to an industrial giant. He expects GE shares, up 8% in 2015, to return $90 billion to investors between now and 2018 as it reduces its exposure to financial assets.
"We think if you wait for GE to finish its overhaul its going to be too late. They are a long way towards getting where they need to be," said Liss. "Before the recession the split of profits between financials and industrials was 50/50. When they are done revamping the portfolio, it should be 90% of profits from industrials, 50% from financials."