Barron's Tags 2 Underperforming Energy Plays As Attractive

 |  Includes: DNR, MRO
by: Bret Jensen

Being a full-time investor and part time stock market columnist means I spend a lot of time doing research. The amount of information available due to the internet is truly astounding compared with two decades ago or even a few years back. The data flow can be a torrent.

Although I take advantage of the new information available from a variety of new channels, I still also stick to longtime favorite sources of good stock ideas. One of my favorites is Barron's. One of the few investment weeklies still in business and a consistent fountain of actionable ideas.

This week the investment magazine pointed out a couple of underperforming energy plays that look attractive here.

Denbury Resources (NYSE:DNR) develops and produces oil and natural gas from its properties in the Gulf Coast region located in Mississippi, Texas, Louisiana, and Alabama.

Barron's provided a positive profile on this undervalued E & P concern this week and states shares have at least 20% upside from here. During 2013 some investors were pushing the company to put some of its CO2 infrastructure and delivery (Ex, pipelines) assets into a master limited partnership it could spin off to shareholders.

Investors were disappointed that the company declined to put some of these assets into this sort of the high yielding structure and the stock significantly underperformed the market in 2013.

However, the firm has several positive catalysts lining up in 2014 which were highlighted in Barron's. The company's capital spending cycle should fall from $1.6B in 2012 to an annual $1B or so for the next several years. This in turn should boost cash flow from operations from ~$1.3B this year to $1.5B in 2015, leaving $500M that could easily allow Denbury to boost the 2016 dividend to $0.75/share.

I have held the shares for some time as I believe the company's CO2 infrastructure (used to push oil out of the ground after natural forces has got 40% out of the ground) is undervalued by the market. The shares also trade for less than 20% above book value and less than 5x operating cash flow. The median analyst price target on the shares held by the 21 analysts that follow the company is $22 a share. This is more than 30% above DNR's current price.

Marathon Oil Corporation (NYSE:MRO) is an energy concern that operates in three segments: Exploration and Production, Oil Sands Mining, and Integrated Gas. Marathon got a little blurb in Barron's Market Watch section this week as a deep value play.

The quick piece cited the company's attractive properties in the Bakken and Eagle Ford shale regions where energy production is exploding. The company is buying back stock and the stock's enterprise value is less than 3.5x EBITDA. The article also notes that over three quarters of the company's reserves are liquids and the shares also pay a 2.2% dividend yield.

MRO is priced at just over 11x forward earnings, ~25% over book value and less than 5x operating cash flow. The 21 analysts that cover Marathon currently have a $43 median price target on MRO, ~25% above its current price in the market.

Disclosure: I am long DNR. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.