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By Lynn Saylor

Below is a list of this year's five best NYSE listed stocks in the Oil Exploration and Production space, based on share price percentage increase. Included is a brief company-provided description, pertinent stock information and some key fundamental metrics.

All of these companies are worth a look and may potentially be worth-while additions to your portfolios, as they all have tremedous long-term growth potential, and it appears as though the Street is catching on to them.

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Bonanza Creek Energy, Inc. (NYSE:BCEI) Price Change YTD: 55.2 %

From the company:

"We are a Denver-based independent exploration and production company focused on the safe and environmentally conscious extraction of America's onshore oil and natural gas resources. We have accumulated over 100,000 net acres in the Rocky Mountains and Mid-Continent. Our mission and strategy is to maximize shareholder value through organic growth and opportunistic acquisitions of crude oil-weighted reserves. We have a highly experienced team of professionals with years of industry experience in the areas in which we operate."

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Its stock currently trades around $19.50 with 39.56M shares out, giving it a market cap of $771.73M. Institutional ownership stands at about 68% with the short interest as of 02/15/12 being 484k shares. The average analyst price target is $21.00.

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Cobalt International Energy, Inc. (NYSE:CIE) Price Change YTD: 91.43 %

From the company:

"Cobalt's strategic objective is very clear: to create distinctive value for our investors by exploring for oil in the largest hydrocarbon rich plays in the deep offshore waters of the U.S. Gulf of Mexico and West Africa, with an emphasis on sub-salt and pre-salt exploration, development, and production.

Our principles are also very clear:

  • Extreme focus on opportunities that play to our strengths

  • Purposeful innovation that delivers the greatest value

  • Trust and respect in all our relationships

  • Operating in a safe, ethical, and environmentally responsible manner"

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Its stock currently trades around $31.10 with 392.30M shares out, giving it a market cap of $11.81B. Institutional ownership stands at about 100% with the short interest as of 02/15/12 being 7.65M shares. The average analyst price target is $36.00.

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GMX Resources, Inc. (GMXR) Price Change YTD: 40%

From the company:

"GMXR's 2012 plan: Execution! We will focus on timely, quality drilling, completion and production operations of our Bakken acreage. GMXR's objective for the second half of 2011, to increase our liquidity to fund our 2012 oil drilling program and into 2013 has been achieved. At year-end 2011, our revenues were 88% natural gas and by successfully drilling our Bakken acreage 70% of our revenues are projected to be oil and natural gas liquids."

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Its stock currently trades around $1.70 with 63.09M shares out, giving it a market cap of $108.51M. Institutional ownership stands at about 32% with the short interest as of 02/15/12 being 9.52M shares. The average analyst price target is $3.50.

Miller Resources Energy, Inc. (NYSE:MILL) Price Change YTD: 48.39 %

From the company:

"Miller Energy Resources is a high-growth oil and natural gas exploration, production and drilling company operating multiple projects in North America. Miller's focus is in the Cook Inlet area of Alaska and in the heart of Tennessee's Appalachian Basin.

Miller is one of the United States premier energy companies and is using its strategy of opportunistic growth combined with prudent development and management of existing assets to maximize value for its shareholders."

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Its stock currently trades around $4.27 with 43.81M shares out, giving it a market cap of $187.08M. Institutional ownership stands at a mere 21% with the short interest as of 02/15/12 being 5.13M shares. The average analyst price target is $8.00.

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Venoco, Inc. (NYSE:VQ) Price Change YTD: 58.35 %

From the company:

"Venoco is an independent energy company engaged in the acquisition, exploitation and development of oil and natural gas properties primarily in California. Venoco operates three offshore platforms in the Santa Barbara Channel, has non-operated interests in three other platforms, operates three onshore properties in Southern California, and has extensive operations in Northern California's Sacramento Basin."

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Its stock currently trades around $10.66 with 61.60M shares out, giving it a market cap of $656.62M. Institutional ownership stands at about 38% with the short interest as of 02/29/12 being 1.00M shares. The average analyst price target is $12.25.

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Source: The 5 Best Performing Oil Exploration And Production Stocks Of 2012