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RBC Likes Seven Oil Stocks During Iraq Turmoil and Oil Shock

Lee Jackson

While the call to arms over the weekend in Iraq appears to at least have stalled the militants lightning quick advance across the country, there are still many oil fields and refineries that are potential casualties, at least in the short term. A new report from the Exploration and Production analysts at RBC points out that the militants still hold the northern city of Mosul, despite being stalled in their advance to Baghdad. They cite reports that the militants have impeded repairs to Iraq's main pipeline, which carries crude from the Kirkuk oil field to the Mediterranean, and there are conflicting reports as to whether the Baiji refinery, which produces 310,000 barrels per day, has been captured, during the militants advance on Tikrit.

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One thing is for sure, the volatility is not going away anytime soon. The RBC team focused their report on companies that are more levered to oil production, which they expect to outperform if production from Iraq is impacted in any meaningful way. Here are the stocks to buy that may benefit from that possible drop in production. All are rated Outperform at RBC

Athlon Energy Inc. (ATHL) is an independent exploration and production company focused on the acquisition, development and exploitation of unconventional oil and liquids-rich natural gas reserves in the Permian Basin. The company announced last week it had closed all of its previously announced acquisitions in the northern Midland Basin for an aggregate purchase price of $873 million in cash. The company previously disclosed that it had closed on approximately $200 million of the acquisitions in early May. RBC has a $48 price target for the stock. The Thomson/First Call consensus target is set at $50. The stock closed Friday at $46.19 a share.

Continental Resources Inc. (CLR) makes the list of top names to buy, especially if Iraq deteriorates. The company is one of the top names in the Bakken Shale and the analysts are expecting a slow but steady increase in production levels. The RBC price target is posted at $138, and the consensus target is $144. Both numbers are way below where Continental closed Friday: $152.38.

Concho Resources Inc. (CXO) is added to the list of top names for oil production, and it is a top energy play in the Permian Basin in West Texas. The company is an independent oil and natural gas company engaged in the acquisition, development and exploration of oil and natural gas properties. It also may be a possible takeover candidate. Concho just completed a successful secondary stock offering that raised close to $1 billion, if the overallotment shares were sold. The company plans to use the net proceeds from this offering to repay the debts under the company's credit facility, as well as for corporate purposes that include financing its three-year accelerated growth plan, capital expenditures tied to the recently announced midstream joint venture and potential future asset buys. RBC has the company as a top pick, with a $148 price target. The consensus target is $145.14. Concho closed Friday at $141.83.

Goodrich Petroleum Corp. (GDP) was hit hard when their fourth-quarter results came in significantly below Wall Street expectations, but savvy investors bought hard and heavy and have been rewarded as the stock has soared. The company reported fourth-quarter adjusted earnings per share of $0.57 and revenue of $50.6 million, compared to analysts' consensus estimates of $0.48 and $62.74 million, respectively. Production averaged 80,800 Mcfe per day for the quarter. RBC has a $31 price target, which is actually lower than the consensus number of $31.48. Goodrich closed Friday at $29.02.

Kodiak Oil and Gas Corp. (KOG) has had a laser focus on the Bakken Shale, which appears to some analysts to be putting it at a disadvantage as it has nowhere else to drill when the weather turns bad. The tough winter made for some slow going for Kodiak. Renewed production now that summer is almost here is expected to go full-blast and reignite earnings. The RBC price target is $14, and the consensus is at $14.78. Kodiak closed Friday at $13.79.

Oasis Petroleum Inc. (OAS) is a company that came in with outstanding earnings last year and is poised to continue in 2014. For the full year, Oasis Petroleum reported adjusted EBITDA of $821.9 million. That was up 60% from the $512.3 million the company reported in 2012. Fourth-quarter growth was strong, as well, as adjusted EBITDA rose 38% from last year's fourth quarter to $225.4 million. RBC is a big fan of the stock and has a $58 price target, while the consensus figure is $55.86. Oasis closed Friday at $52.68.

Whiting Petroleum Corp. (WLL) is another large energy player in the Bakken Shale and is ranked as the third largest producer there. Over 2013, Whiting sold off significant amounts of its assets that aren't in the Bakken, including its Postle Field enhanced oil recovery assets for $817 million and its acreage in the Delaware Basin for $150 million. It in turn are using the cash from the sales and deploying more assets into the higher-return Bakken this year and beyond. The RBC price target is $81, and the consensus figure is at $85.25. Whiting closed Friday at $79.29.

It is important to remember this is more of a trade idea on the geopolitical situation, versus a long-term buy-and-hold recommendation. While the stocks are all solid portfolio names, many are trading at or near the RBC price objectives. Investors with a more aggressive account profile may want to consider some of these oil-rich names for a summer play.

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