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Zacks Industry Outlook Highlights: Chevron, Harvest Natural Resources, Abraxas Petroleum, Dril-Quip and Halliburton

CHICAGO, Jan. 3, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, Zacks Equity Research discusses the Oil & Gas , including Chevron Corp. (NYSE:CVX-Free Report), Harvest Natural Resources Inc. (NYSE:HNR-Free Report), Abraxas Petroleum Corp. (Nasdaq:AXAS-Free Report), Dril-Quip Inc. (NYSE:DRQ-Free Report) and Halliburton Co. (NYSE:HAL-Free Report).

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Industry: Oil & Gas

Link: http://www.zacks.com/commentary/30692/oil--gas-stock-outlook---jan-2014

As far as overall results of the Oil/Energy sector is concerned, it displays an encouraging trend. While earnings fell 8.4% in the third quarter of 2013, it improved from the 11.2% drop witnessed in the previous quarter. What's more, there was a marked enhancement in revenue performance, which was up 2.8% in the September quarter as against a decline of 5.4% in the second quarter.

The sector had a mixed performance in terms of beat ratios (percentage of companies coming out with positive surprises). The earnings "beat ratio" was an impressive 62.2%, but the revenue "beat ratio" was underwhelming, at 37.8%.

For more information about earnings for this sector and others, please read our 'Earnings Trends' report.

OPPORTUNITIES

Considering the turbulent market dynamics of the energy industry, we always advocate the relatively low-risk conglomerate business structures of the large-cap integrateds, with their fortress-like balance sheets, ample free cash flows even in a low oil price environment and growing dividends.

Our preferred name in this group remains Chevron Corp. (NYSE:CVX-Free Report). Its current oil and gas development project pipeline is among the best in the industry, boasting large, multiyear projects. Additionally, Chevron possesses one of the healthiest balance sheets among peers, which helps it to capitalize on investment opportunities with the option to make strategic acquisitions.

While all crude-focused stocks stand to benefit from rising commodity prices, companies in the exploration and production (E&P) sector are the best placed, as they will be able to extract more value for their products. In particular, we suggest exposure to small-cap, undervalued E&P players like Harvest Natural Resources Inc. (NYSE:HNR-Free Report) and Abraxas Petroleum Corp. (Nasdaq:AXAS-Free Report), which enjoy the benefits of crude oil price leverage.

One may also capitalize on this opportunity with the related business sector of energy equipment service providers. Our top pick in this space is Dril-Quip Inc. (NYSE:DRQ-Free Report). This offshore drilling equipment maker boasts of highly engineered drilling and production equipment for deepwater severe-service applications and harsh environmental conditions.

Further, we remain optimistic on the near-term prospects of Halliburton Co. (NYSE:HAL-Free Report). The oilfield services behemoth -- among the top three players in each of its product/service categories -- is enjoying strong demand for its services in international markets and expects the trend to continue in the coming quarters. The company's inexpensive valuation and a favorable DOJ verdict over its role in the Macondo oil spill lend additional support.

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Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Inherent in any investment is the potential for loss. This material is being provided for informational purposes only and nothing herein constitutes investment, legal, accounting or tax advice, or a recommendation to buy, sell or hold a security. No recommendation or advice is being given as to whether any investment is suitable for a particular investor. It should not be assumed that any investments in securities, companies, sectors or markets identified and described were or will be profitable. All information is current as of the date of herein and is subject to change without notice. Any views or opinions expressed may not reflect those of the firm as a whole. Zacks Investment Research does not engage in investment banking, market making or asset management activities of any securities. These returns are from hypothetical portfolios consisting of stocks with Zacks Rank = 1 that were rebalanced monthly with zero transaction costs. These are not the returns of actual portfolios of stocks. The S&P 500 is an unmanaged index. Visit http://www.zacks.com/performance for information about the performance numbers displayed in this press release.

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