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2 Standout Oil Stocks Worth a Look as Energy Sector Shines

Published 2022-11-09, 05:37 a/m
  • Oil stocks are 2022’s top performers due to surging energy prices
  • Energy stocks enjoying a blockbuster year
  • Consider buying Hess Corporation and Diamondback Energy
  • U.S. crude has risen nearly 20% so far in 2022, with prices jumping to their highest since 2008 due to tighter global supplies after Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

    Meanwhile, U.S. natural gas prices, which rose to a 14-year peak in late August, are up about 65% since the start of the year.

    Crude Oil, Natural Gas Monthly

    Not surprisingly, the Energy Select Sector SPDR® Fund (NYSE:XLE)—which tracks a market-cap-weighted index of U.S. energy companies in the S&P 500— is up nearly 67% year-to-date, making it the top performing sector of the year by a wide margin. The S&P 500 is down roughly 20% over the same timeframe.

    S&P, XLE Daily

    I believe that Hess Corporation (NYSE:HES) and Diamondback Energy (NASDAQ:FANG) are primed to break out to new all-time highs in the months ahead.

    Hess Corporation

    • Year-To-Date Performance: +100.3%
    • Market Cap: $45.4 Billion

    Shares of the New York-based company have soared by a whopping 100.3% year-to-date (ytd) far outpacing returns on the Dow. HES surged to an all-time high of $149.42 on Tuesday before ending the session at $148.29. Hess has outperformed peers including ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM) (+86.3%), Chevron (NYSE:CVX) (+57.9%), ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP) (+90.9%), and Schlumberger (NYSE:SLB) (+82.6%).

    Despite a strong year-to-date performance, Hess, with its strong balance sheet and high margins, remains worth owning due to its continuous efforts to return excess cash to shareholders.

    HES Daily Chart

    Hess delivered third-quarter profit and revenue which easily topped expectations on Oct. 26 thanks to higher production and surging prices.

    Output rose 32% year-over-year (yoy) to 351,000 barrels of oil and gas per day amid improved production in Guyana and North Dakota's Bakken shale field. It sold its oil at an average price of $93.95 a barrel, up 38% yoy. Looking ahead, Hess lifted its full-year production outlook by 1.6% to 325,000 barrels of oil and gas per day.

    CEO John Hess said the company remains focused on returning 75% of free cash flow to shareholders and will give "strong consideration" to an increase to its regular dividend next year. Adding:

    “As our portfolio becomes increasingly free cash flow positive, we will continue to prioritize the return of capital to our shareholders through further dividend increases and share repurchases.”

    Hess is poised for further gains as it benefits from strong fundamentals which will fuel growth in earnings and free cash flow allowing it to maintain its focus on shareholder returns.

    Diamondback Energy

    • Year-To-Date Performance: +51.6%
    • Market Cap: $35 Billion

    Diamondback Energy has been another standout performer in the thriving oil sector this year. Shares of the Midland, Texas-based company have climbed 51.6% year-to-date as it reaps the benefits of improving market fundamentals, rising global fuel demand, and strong commodity prices.

    FANG stock ended at an all-time high of $163.55 on Tuesday, above the prior record high close of $163.49 from the day before. At current levels, the oil-and-gas producer has a market cap of roughly $35 billion.

    FANG Daily Chart

    In my opinion, FANG remains one of the best names to own in the booming oil sector thanks to its improving balance sheet, high free cash flow, ongoing efforts to return capital to shareholders, as well as a relatively cheap valuation.

    Indeed, Diamondback, which reported better-than-expected third-quarter profit earlier this week, said it returned $874 million to its stockholders through dividends and share buybacks in the July-Sept. period. This represents about 75% of the company's $1.16 billion Q3 free cash flow.

    Looking ahead, I believe that Diamondback is well positioned to extend its strong performance heading into the new year as it continues to benefit from increased output at its operations throughout the Permian basin and high oil and gas prices.

    With a relatively low price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of 6.6, Diamondback stock comes at a significant discount when compared to some of its notable industry peers, such as EOG Resources (NYSE:EOG) (11.5), Pioneer Natural Resources (NYSE:PXD) (9.2), Devon Energy (NYSE:DVN) (9.1), and Continental Resources (NYSE:CLR) (9.2).

    As such, I believe FANG shares are well worth adding to your portfolio as they are still attractively valued and should offer further upside on a long-term basis.

    Disclosure: At the time of writing, Jesse is long on the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 via the SPDR Dow ETF (DIA) and the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY (NYSE:SPY)). He is also long on the Energy Select Sector SPDR ETF (NYSE:XLE) and the Health Care Select Sector SPDR ETF (NYSE:XLV). The views discussed in this article are solely the opinion of the author and should not be taken as investment advice.

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