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Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) published a report entitled "Americas: Energy: Oil & Gas - E&P" on January 5, 2012. The report isn't publicly available but we will summarize its main points. In their report, Brian Singer, Pavan Hoskote, Andre Benjamin and Nimarta Chugh state that the year 2012 will have an attractive outlook on shale scale and exploration. Both the 'Permian Basin' and 'deepwater' will provide a large number of positive catalysts for companies. Goldman Sachs is expecting an average of 27% upside in target prices. Here are the stocks mentioned in their report:

Anadarko Petroleum Company (NYSE:APC) engages in the oil and gas exploration and production, midstream, and marketing activities. Goldman Sachs has given it a buy rating. Anadarko Petroleum has been quite successful at discovering new oil fields in Ghana. With its four high-impact exploration wells in West Africa, the company is returning to active exploration. Shares of the company are currently trading at $79.7 and are expected to reach a six-month price target of $103, indicating a potential upside of 29%. It is trading at 5.2x its enterprise value to EBITDA ratio. John Paulson had nearly $900 million in Anadarko at the end of September.

Apache Corporation (NYSE:APA) operates as an independent energy company. It has been given a buy rating by Goldman Sachs because it believes that the company can increase its North American production due to its scaled position. This will result in a successful re-rating of its stocks. Apache Corporation currently has 1.5 million acres in the Permian Basin and is also operating 24 rigs. Shares of the company are trading around $96 and are expected to reach a six-month price target of $129, indicating a potential upside of 34%. It is trading at 2.9x its enterprise value to EBITDA ratio.

EOG Resources, Inc. (NYSE:EOG) engages in the exploration, development, production and marketing of natural gas and crude oil. It has been given a buy rating by Goldman Sachs. Companies like EOG Resources are expected to improve returns and beat earnings-to-cash-flow ratio expectations because it is part of the Eagle Ford Shale. It is looking to decreases its costs by $0.5 million in Eagle Ford. Shares of the company are currently trading around $103 per share and are expected to reach a six-month price target of $133. It has a dividend yield of 0.6% and a price-to-earnings ratio of 26.4x. T. Boone Pickens is among EOG investors.

Newfield Exploration Company (NYSE:NFX) is an independent oil and gas company that engages in the acquisition, exploration and development of oil and gas properties. The company has been given a buy rating by Goldman Sachs as the company is expected to benefit from greater industry disclosure on the Uinta Basin resource potential. Goldman Sachs is also expecting Newfield Exploration to look toward the divestiture of its Bakken assets and is of the opinion that the company was penalized too harshly on its Granite Wash exposure. Shares of the company are currently trading at $38.3 and are expected to reach a six-month price target of $56. It has a price-to-equity ratio of 10.5x.

Noble Energy, Inc. (NYSE:NBL) engages in the acquisition, exploration, development, production and marketing of crude oil, natural gas and natural gas liquids. It has been given a buy rating by Goldman Sachs. The company has attractive development plays in the Wattenberg Niobrara and Marcellus. Both of these regions are expected to help in a robust production growth for the company over the next five years. Noble has had successful discoveries in Equatorial Guinea. Additionally, its Israel and Cyprus operated blocks are also going to have an impact on its stock in the near future. Shares of the company are currently trading at $97.5 and are expected to reach a six-month price target of $128. It has a target return potential of 31% in 2012.

Pioneer Natural Resources (NYSE:PXD) engages in the exploration and production of oil and gas. It has been given a buy rating by Goldman Sachs. With the increasing momentum in the Wolfcamp shale, pioneer Natural Resources is expecting encouraging results in 2012. It is also Goldman Sachs' favorite stock and is likely to gain Permian exposure due to its leverage on the horizontal Wolfcamp Shale and vertical Wolfberry scale themes. Shares of Pioneer Natural Resources are currently trading at $94.4 and are expected to reach a six-month price target of $124. It has a target return potential of 33% in 2012.

Plains Exploration & Production (NYSE:PXP) is an independent oil and gas company that engages in the acquisition, development, exploration and production of oil and gas in California, Texas, and Louisiana. It has been given a buy rating by Goldman Sachs. Even in the absence of scale and exploration catalysts, the company can achieve greater growth visibility and improved capital discipline. According to Goldman Sachs, its results in the Eagle Ford shale have been strong and the Street is underestimating its organic drilling inventory. Its partnership with EOG Resources has been beneficial and makes the company an attractive acquisition. Shares of the company are currently trading at $36.6 and are expected to reach a six-month price target of $46. It has a price-to-earnings ratio of 59.7x and is expected to generate a target return of 18% in 2012. Steven Cohen had $119 million in PXP at the end of September.

Sandridge Energy, Inc. (NYSE:SD) operates as an independent natural gas and oil company in the U.S. It has been given a sell rating by Goldman Sachs due to its less attractive relative valuation. Goldman Sachs also suggests that Sandridge has an opaque path to its free cash flow and strong results from the company's Mississippian play could pose a key risk to the sell rating. Shares of the company are currently trading at $8.5 and are expected to go south of $8.3 by the end of 2012. The company is expected to generate target returns of 8% in 2012.

Encana Corporation (NYSE:ECA) engages in the exploration, development, production and marketing of natural gas and natural gas liquids. It has been given a sell rating by Goldman Sachs. Encana has an ongoing exploration program in the Duvernay Shale region. Its shares are currently trading at $18.3 and are expected to reach a six-month price target of $20. It returned negative 36% in 2011.

Source: 7 Oil And Gas Stocks To Buy, 2 To Sell