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The current supermajors have gotten so big that returns going forward for companies like Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM), BP (NYSE:BP), or Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.A, RDS.B) will likely be less than they have in the past. Investors need to be on the lookout for companies that have the potential to join this elite club. These three stocks that I have identified have strong management and have positioned themselves in fast-growing areas of the oil patch to grow earnings and their market caps. The three I've identified are Anadarko Petroleum Corporation (NYSE:APC), EOG Resources (NYSE:EOG) and Apache Corp. (NYSE:APA).

Anadarko Petroleum Corporation

Dividend Yield: 0.40%

Anadarko is one of the largest independent oil and gas exploration and production companies in the world. At the end of 2012, proved reserves were 2.56 billion barrels of oil equivalent. Anadarko's asset portfolio includes U.S. onshore resource plays in the Rocky Mountains area, the southern United States, and the Appalachian basin. The company is also among the largest independent producers in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico, and has production and exploration activities worldwide, including high-potential basins located in Algeria, Mozambique, Ghana, China, Kenya, Côte d'Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Brazil, Alaska, New Zealand, and other countries.

What I like most about Anadarko is that it's aggressive in its drilling activities. According to the most recent 10-K, the company's drilling activities are:

In the Rocky Mountain region, the Company drilled 794 wells and completed 846 wells during 2012. The Company plans to increase the number of horizontal wells drilled from 181 in 2012 to approximately 325 in 2013, with continued focus on liquids-rich plays.

In the Southern and Appalachia region, the Company drilled 513 operated horizontal wells and brought 453 wells online in 2012. The Company expects to drill approximately 455 horizontal wells in 2013.

In the Gulf of Mexico, Anadarko owns an average 64% working interest in 479 blocks. The Company operates seven active floating platforms, holds interests in 34 producing fields, and is in the process of delineating and developing six additional fields in the area.

Anadarko drilled 51 wells in international areas in 2012, resulting in new natural-gas discoveries in Mozambique and oil discoveries in Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire. In 2013, the Company expects to drill approximately 40 development and 20 exploration wells at various international locations.

Company highlights are:

Anadarko's total-year sales volumes were 732 thousand barrels of oil equivalent per day (MBOE/d), representing an 8% increase over 2011.

Anadarko's liquids sales volumes were 316 thousand barrels per day (MBbls/d), representing a 9% increase over 2011.

The Company achieved an approximate 67% success rate from offshore exploration and appraisal drilling completed in 2012.

The Southern and Appalachia Region total-year sales volumes were 198 MBOE/d, representing a 36% increase over 2011, primarily from the Marcellus, Eagleford, and Haynesville shales.

The Company achieved first production from the Caesar/Tonga development (33.75% working interest) in the Green Canyon area during March 2012, utilizing Anadarko's Constitution spar floating production facility.

The Company entered into a carried-interest arrangement that requires a third-party partner to fund $556 million of Anadarko's capital costs to earn a 7.2% working interest in the Lucius development.

The Company drilled five successful exploration wells: two in Mozambique and one each in Ghana, Côte d'Ivoire, and Sierra Leone.

The Company drilled ten successful appraisal wells: seven in Mozambique, two in Ghana, and one in Brazil.

Western Gas Equity Partners, LP (WGP), a consolidated subsidiary formed to own Anadarko's partnership interests in Western Gas Partners, LP (WES), also a consolidated subsidiary of Anadarko, completed its initial public offering (NYSEARCA:IPO) of approximately 20 million common units representing limited partner interests in WGP at a price of $22.00 per common unit.

In looking at the company's stock, we see that it has a current market cap of $42.43 billion. The stock trades with a forward P/E of 16.55 and a PEG ratio of 1. Operating margins are 16.31% and return on equity is 11.97% On the balance sheet, there's $2.47 billion in cash to $14.46 billion in debt.

Over the past year, the stock is up just over 16%. The company pays an annual dividend of 36 cents per share for a yield of 0.40%. The dividend payout ratio is only 8%. Of the analysts that follow the stock, 15 have it rated as a Strong Buy, 11 a Buy, and 3 a Hold. Price targets on the stock range from $90 to $139 with $105 being the median target.

EOG Resources, Inc.

Dividend Yield: 0.60%

EOG Resources explores, produces, and markets crude oil and natural gas. At the end of last year, proved reserves totaled 1,811 million barrels of oil equivalent. The company's operations are in the United States, Canada, Trinidad and Tobago, the United Kingdom, China and Argentina.

According to the company's latest 10-K:

At December 31, 2012, 40% of EOG's net proved reserves in the United States and Canada (on a crude oil equivalent basis) were crude oil and condensate, 19% were NGLs and 41% were natural gas. Substantial portions of these reserves are in long-lived fields with well-established production characteristics.

EOG is best positioned in the prolific Eagle Ford Shale:

The Eagle Ford Shale, with well-defined crude oil, wet gas and dry gas trends, has proven to have the best crude oil economics of any of EOG's shale plays. EOG was one of the first companies to recognize the potential of the Eagle Ford Shale and captured what EOG believes to be the best crude oil acreage position within the play. With 569,000 of its 639,000 net acres within the crude oil window, EOG is the largest oil producer in the play.

EOG is also well-positioned in the Barnett Shale, Williston Basin, and Permian Basin.

During 2012, EOG continued development of its liquids-rich Barnett Shale Combo play in the Fort Worth Basin. EOG drilled 190 net Barnett Combo wells and continued to upgrade the quality of its acreage position and add potential drilling locations in the liquids-rich Combo core area. For 2013, EOG will continue to be active in this play with plans to drill an additional 130 net Barnett Shale Combo wells. EOG has an acreage position of approximately 430,000 net acres in the Barnett Shale.

Also during 2012, EOG continued its strong liquids development in the Rocky Mountain area. In the Williston Basin, where production is approximately 85% crude oil, 62 net wells were drilled in 2012. EOG has continued its development of the Turner Sand formation in the Powder River Basin, where EOG has drilled 12 net wells, each producing liquids-rich natural gas. EOG holds approximately 1.3 million net acres in the Rocky Mountain area and expects to drill 51 net wells in 2013.

In 2012, EOG drilled and participated in 105 net wells in the Permian Basin to develop its liquids-rich Leonard-Avalon, Bone Spring and Wolfcamp plays. EOG is well positioned with approximately 73,000 net acres in the Leonard-Avalon Shale and Bone Spring, and 114,000 net acres in the Wolfcamp Shale, all within the Delaware Basin. Additionally, EOG has approximately 133,000 net acres in the Wolfcamp Shale within the Midland Basin. EOG holds approximately 450,000 net acres throughout the Permian Basin. In 2013, EOG plans to continue the expansion and development of the Leonard-Avalon, Bone Spring and Wolfcamp plays by drilling 63 net wells.

EOG Resources has a current market cap of $32.92 billion. The stock trades with a forward P/E of 16.40 and the PEG ratio is 1.01. Operating margins are 11.60% and return on equity is 4.40%. On the balance sheet there's $876.43 million in cash to $6.32 billion.

Over the past year the stock is up over 11%. The company pays an annual dividend of 75 cents per share for a yield of 0.60%. The dividend payout ratio is 32%.

Of the analysts that follow the stock, 11 have it rated as a Strong Buy, 16 a Buy, 7 a Hold, and 1 an Underperform. Price targets on the stock range from $120 to $176 with $148.75 being the median target.

Apache Corp.

Dividend Yield: 1.10%

Apache Corp. is an independent energy company that explores for, develops, and produces natural gas, crude oil, and natural gas liquids. The company has operations in the United States, Canada, Egypt, Australia, United Kingdom, and Argentina.

In the company's latest 10-K, Apache is well-diversified in the U.S. and Canada.

Apache has 12.3 million gross acres across the U.S., approximately 60 percent of which is undeveloped. In 2013, Apache plans to invest approximately $700 million, $400 million, and $250 million in the Gulf of Mexico Shelf, Gulf of Mexico Deepwater, and Gulf Coast Onshore regions, respectively.

Since entering the Canadian market in 1995, Apache has continued to increase its presence in the region and now holds approximately seven million gross acres across the provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan. The region's large acreage position provides portfolio diversification as well as significant drilling opportunity. Canada represented approximately 19 percent of Apache's worldwide proved reserves at year-end 2012 and approximately 16 percent of 2012 worldwide production.

Future natural gas drilling activity will be driven by market prices and the Kitimat LNG project. In December 2012, Apache announced an agreement with Chevron Canada to build and operate the Kitimat LNG project and develop shale gas resources at the Liard and Horn River basins in British Columbia. Chevron Canada and Apache Canada will each hold a 50-percent interest in the Kitimat LNG plant, the Pacific Trail Pipeline, and approximately 644,000 gross undeveloped acres in the Horn River and Liard basins. The Kitimat plant has received all significant environmental approvals and a 20-year export license from the Canadian federal government.

Apache offers international exposure.

Apache controls 9.7 million gross acres in Egypt, making Apache the largest acreage holder in Egypt's Western Desert. Only 18 percent of the gross acreage in Egypt has been developed, with gross production of 213 Mb/d and 900 MMcf/d in 2012, or 100 Mb/d and 354 MMcf/d net to Apache. In 2012, the region contributed 27 percent of Apache's worldwide production revenue, 20 percent of worldwide production, and 10 percent of year-end 2012 estimated proved reserves.

Apache's holdings in Australia are focused offshore Western Australia in the Carnarvon, Exmouth, and Browse basins. In total, Apache controls approximately 7.9 million gross acres offshore Western Australia through 30 exploration permits, 17 production licenses, and 13 retention leases. Approximately 90 percent of this acreage is undeveloped.

During 2012, the Australia region had net production of 29 Mb/d of oil and 214 MMcf/d of natural gas, contributing 9 percent of Apache's worldwide production revenue, 8 percent of worldwide production and 12 percent of year-end estimated proved reserves.

The region is a key component of Apache's exploration program. During 2012, Apache participated in drilling 15 offshore wells, of which 10 were exploration or appraisal wells. This compares to nine wells drilled in 2011.

Apache entered the North Sea in 2003 after acquiring an approximate 97-percent working interest in the Forties field (Forties). Since acquiring Forties, Apache has actively invested in the region, having produced and sold oil volumes in excess of the proved reserves initially recorded.

In 2012, the North Sea region produced 64 Mb/d of oil and 57 MMcf/d of natural gas, contributing 16 percent of Apache's worldwide production revenue, 10 percent of worldwide production and 6 percent of year-end estimated proved reserves.

As of December 31, 2012, Apache had total estimated proved reserves of 1,441 MMbbls of crude oil, condensate, and NGLs and 8.5 Tcf of natural gas. Combined, these total estimated proved reserves are the energy equivalent of 2.9 billion barrels of oil or 17.1 Tcf of natural gas, of which oil represents 41 percent.

Apache has a current market cap of $28.94 billion. The stock trades with a forward P/E of 7.50 and has a PEG ratio of 1.21. The company's profit margin is 11.89% and return on equity is 6.63%. On the balance sheet, there's $160 million in cash to $12.34 billion in debt. Operating cash flow is $8.50 billion and book value per share is $76.87.

Over the past year, the stock is down over 22%. The company pays an annual dividend of 80 cents per share for a yield of 1.10%. The dividend payout ratio is 13%.

Of the analysts that follow the stock, 7 have it rated as a Strong Buy, 9 a Buy, and 13 a Hold. Price targets on the stock range from $76 to $130 with $95 being the median target.

Assessment

I feel all three have the potential to one day be a supermajor. I'd advise shareholders in Exxon Mobil, BP or Royal Dutch Shell to consider adding one of these to their portfolios. All have attractive assets and are aggressive in their expansion plans.

Source: 1 Of These 3 Will Be The Next Supermajor