3 “Strong Buy” Oil Stocks to Energize Your Portfolio

We’re bargain hunting, looking for stocks that will bring strong returns for a low cost of entry. Our criteria, a “Strong Buy” analyst consensus combined with upside potential that exceeds 20%, naturally leads us to the energy sector. Despite high overhead and low prices, oil and gas extraction remain cash-rich niches, with potential for high profits when a company strikes a rich deposit.

Using TipRanks’ Stock Screener, we’ve picked out three energy stocks to power up your investment portfolio. All three are priced at a bargain, have Buy ratings from Wall Street’s analysts, and boast superb upside potential. Let’s dive in, and find out what else makes them compelling buys.

Northern Oil and Gas (NOG)

Starting up north in the Williston Basin, Northern Oil and Gas owns mineral rights on more than 165,000 acres of land, has interests in over 2,500 well sites, and sits on proven reserves exceeding 65 million barrels of oil equivalent.

Like many small- to mid-cap energy companies, price pressures and overhead caused NOG to underperform the markets last year. The most recent earnings report showed an EPS of 9 cents, below the forecast – but revenues were up, coming in at $233.9 million, or 37% over the estimate. While headwinds are hurting Northern, the company’s foundation is solid.

Management is using that strong revenue base to put the company on sound footing, with it reducing debt and attracting investors by commencing a dividend. In mid-January, the company revealed moves to retire more than $50 million in outstanding debt notes, a decision that will improve the bottom line by 13%. Additionally, in mid-December, NOG announced its first ever dividend payment, scheduled for April 2020, of 1.5 cents per share. At current prices, this dividend will yield about 3%, or 50% more than the average yield among S&P-listed companies.

Analyst Jason Wangler, of Imperial Capital, was impressed by NOG management’s financial moves, and upgraded his stance on the stock from Neutral to Buy. Wangler specifically cited the dividend announcement in his comments, writing, “The announcement is important as it shows the progress NOG has made on its balance sheet over the past two years as well as the fact that now NOG stock can be considered a yield vehicle.”

Wangler also raised his price target on NOG, from $2 to $2.50, in line with this bullish stance – it implies an upside potential of 51% for the stock. (To watch Wangler’s track record, click here)

All three of NOG’s recent analyst reviews are Buys, giving the stock a unanimous Strong Buy consensus rating. Shares are priced low, at just $1.66, and the average price target of $3.25 suggests an upside potential of 96%, a strong indicator that Wangler’s view is somewhat conservative. (See Northern Oil and Gas stock-price forecast on TipRanks)

Earthstone Energy (ESTE)

For our next energy play, we shift our attention 1,200 miles south, to the Midland and Eagle Ford formations of Texas. Earthstone Energy operates on more than 47,000 acres in these two oil-rich regions, and has over 300 producing wells. Earthstone is a small-cap company, with a total market capitalization of $322.8 million.

Operating in one of North America’s highest-producing oil and gas regions, Earthstone has seen both high output and strong revenues. The company consistently beat earnings forecasts in 2019, and in its last report, posted 18 cents EPS. This compared favorably to the 13-cent forecast and the 17-cent year-ago number.

On a better note for investors, ESTE released forward guidance at the end of January, predicting 2019 daily average sales volumes will exceed previous expectations by 9%. Adding to the good news, the company predicted a 20% increase in production and a 21% decrease in capital expenditures for 2020.

These positive developments prompted RBC analyst Brad Heffern to maintain his Buy rating and price target of $8. Heffern’s target implies a possible upside of 60%. (To watch Heffern’s track record, click here)

Commenting on the stock, Heffern said, “On the back of very strong preliminary 4Q19 results, ESTE’s 2020 plan includes higher oil production and lower capex than we previously anticipated. We now see a relatively clear path to ESTE’s goal of FCF at $50/bbl in 2H20, which is quite a feat for a company of ESTE’s size.”

Overall, ESTE’s Strong Buy consensus rating is based on 5 reviews, including 4 Buys and 1 Hold, set in the past few months. The average price target, $8.81, indicates room for an impressive 76% upside from the current share price of $5. (See Earthstone stock analysis on TipRanks)

Devon Energy (DVN)

Third on our list is Devon Energy, an $8 billion company with operations in the Eagle Ford, Delaware, STACK, and Powder River formations. Devon has over 21,000 wells on 3.8 million acres, produced over 530 million barrels of oil equivalent in 2018, and has 1.9 billion barrels more in proven reserves.

Devon is scheduled to release Q4 earnings on February 18. In the last report, the company beat the EPS and revenue forecasts by wide margins. EPS came in at 26 cents, while the $1.85 billion in revenue also flew past the Street’s estimate. It’s important to note that DVN consistently beat quarterly expectations through 2019.

Also of importance for investors, in December, Devon announced the Q1 2020 cash dividend, to be paid out in March. The dividend, at 9 cents, annualizes to 36 cents and gives a yield of 1.66%. While nothing to write home about – it is slightly less than the average yield among S&P 500 companies – it is still a reliable income stream. Devon has raised the dividend three times in the past three years, and the payout ratio of 21% shows that the payment is easily sustainable.

Writing on DVN stock from BMO Capital, analyst Phillip Jungwirth notes, “We see the company entering 2020 with a focused high margin and return oil-weighted portfolio that should generate peer-leading corporate returns and free cash flows.”

Jungwirth maintained his Buy rating, and bumped up his price target to $30. At current levels, this suggests a potential 38% upside to the stock. (To watch Jungwirth’s track record, click here)

Devon Energy’s Strong Buy consensus view is based on 9 Buys and 3 Holds. The stock sells for $21.72 per share, and the average price target of $32.40 indicates room for 49% upside growth. (See Devon price targets and analyst ratings on TipRanks)

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