5 Oil Stocks With Significant Upside Potential

Includes: APA, HAL, MRO, OXY, XOM
by: Efsinvestment

The price of oil keeps heading north, as tensions in the Middle East escalate to a possible war. Crude and brent oil are both trading at above triple-digit numbers, and this has been affecting the oil industry as well. Oil stocks are moving parallel to the oil tensions story for now, and if you're looking to profit from the situation, you need to look for cheap stocks that are currently not overbought.

I have found five oil stocks that have Relative Strength Index numbers below 50%, and are trading at low P/E ratios. Moreover, analysts agree on positive long-term EPS growths on all five companies. Here is a brief analysis of these five oil stocks with low RSIs and P/E ratios:

Exxon (NYSE:XOM)

Despite having been lost its market-cap throne, Exxon is still the strongest company in the oil industry. As I predicted at the beginning of the year, Apple has now claimed Exxon's throne. However, Exxon is still one of the safest investments in its field, with a market cap of more than $400 billion. The stock found strong support from the $70 levels, and jumped as soon as the share price fell a little below $70 last year.

Following August, Exxon has made an admirable recovery, and is up by 2.5% since the beginning of this year. That might not sound much, but when its 1-year return of 4.7% is taken into account, YTD covers more than half of that. The estimated annual EPS growth for the next five years is 6.8%, and with a Beta value of 0.50, Exxon is the least volatile stock among its peers. Its O-Metrix score of 4.46 is at the very average.

Analysts' mean target price of $92.5 implies 6.6% upside potential in the near term. With a 2.16% dividend and a strong balance sheet, Exxon should make for a good investment. I believe the stock will hit triple-digits this year, should oil prices keep rising. However, I expect a pullback from Exxon in the near term, as the RSI (53.44%) is low for a stock pushing through strong upward resistance. Moreover, both Argus and Howard Weil have downgraded their estimates on this name.

Occidental Petroleum Corp. (NYSE:OXY)

Founded in 1920, Occidental Petroleum, which employs more than 11,000 employees, is another company getting the most out of the oil tensions. The stock is up by 43.3% in only five-and-a-half months. Occidental pays tidy dividends and has a trustworthy dividend background. Its debt-to equity ratio of 0.2 is way below the market average, as well.

Similar to Exxon, Occidental is moving steadily in an upward trend. It is still cheap with a trailing P/E ratio of 12.4, and forward P/E ratio of 10.6. Occidental Petroleum was an outperformer until August in 2011, and it is likely to outperform again in 2012. Based on 12.5% EPS growth estimate, Occidental has an O-Metrix score of 6.36. The company has fields in the Middle East, but most of them are away from the Strait of Hormuz. Therefore, you can choose to count on this name.

Apache Corp. (NYSE:APA)

Although Apache lost nearly 16% of its value in the last 12 months, I am quite optimistic about it. Things seem to have reversed for Apache, as it returned around 17% since the beginning of the year. The company runs oil and gas projects in Australia, Egypt, the U.K and Argentina, as well as the Gulf of Mexico.

Apache's balance sheet seems strong compared to its peers. The share price is excellent for a stock with a P/E ratio of 9.2, and a forward P/E ratio of 7.6. Dividends are very tidy. Debts have been decreasing for the last five quarters straight, while cash flow has been increasing significantly. Apache has also closed on some big deals recently - an $8 billion combined asset purchases from Devon (NYSE:DVN) and BP (NYSE:BP) and a $4 billion merger with Mariner Energy. Analysts' target price of $131.67 indicates an about 25% upside in the near term. My advice: Hop on before the train leaves. Based on these numbers, Apache has an O-Metrix score of 6.72.

Halliburton (NYSE:HAL)

Contrary to expectations, Halliburton is drawing quite a flat chart this year. The good news is that the massive 2011 sell-offs, due to which Halliburton lost more than half of its value between August and October 2011, have ceased.

Halliburton is still not performing well this year, and the stock is trading at 40% below its 52-week high. However, the company is undervalued among its peers. The company reported admirable results this January. Moreover, the stock is trading 7.5 times forward earnings, which gives it the green light for future expansions. Cash flow and revenue are doing great. With a PEG value of 0.4, Halliburton is extremely undervalued.

Halliburton would be trading much higher if there were no oil spill trial between the company and BP. Nevertheless, Halliburton can make a good investment for this year. Since Finviz analysts' EPS growth estimate of 28% sounds quite irrational, I will use the old one to calculate the O-Metrix score. Based on 18.0% EPS growth estimate, Halliburton has an A+ Grade O-Metrix score of 10.40.

Marathon Oil (NYSE:MRO)

Marathon is another top performing company, which has healed its sell-off wounds since October 2011. Between July and October, the stock went from $35 to $19, losing about 45% of its value. The company returned more than 63% since October.

I can tell that we have a Phoenix here. Marathon literally crashed in October 2011. Thanks to these oil tensions, the stock is reaching new highs now. Revenue and assets are going north again. Marathon is extremely cheap for a stock trading 7.6 times forward earnings. Analysts' mean target price of $38.0 implies 12.4% upside potential in the near term. Based on 8.5% EPS growth estimate, Marathon has an O-Metrix score of 4.84.

Data from Finviz/Morningstar. You can download the O-Metrix calculator here.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.