This morning's news that Freeport McMoran is acquiring two E&P businesses (Plains Exploration and McMoran Exploration) is the first real M&A activity since BHP's acquisition of Petrohawk in the middle of last year. Subsequently BHP had to take significant write downs on their newly acquired assets and the fervor for buying E&P names steadily cooled.
Some names in the sector are relatively attractively priced. Devon Energy (NYSE:DVN) trades below the price of its proved reserves and is 100% U.S. so no geopolitical risk. At some point they could represent an attractive way to supplement depleting energy reserves for one of the major integrated oil companies. Range Resources (NYSE:RRC) has also been weak lately and offers some significant upside if they can successfuly extract a good percentage of their 50 Trillion Cubic Feet Equivalent (TCFE) of potential natural gas reserves. Comstock Resources (NYSE:CRK) is also at the low end of its recent range. With a market cap of less than $1BN it would be an easy acquisition for many big companies. The 25% short interest in CRK also reveals some healthy skepticism.