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If you want to invest in oil and gas drilling companies, but prefer small cap-sized companies, we have a short list of companies that may interest you. These small caps all have room to grow and showing favorable signs that they are capable of realizing those predictions. Our list today contains companies that have been rated as 'Buy' by industry analysts and have high projected earnings over the long term. Take a look at the quick summary below to get an idea of where to start your research.

EPS growth (earnings per share growth) illustrates the growth of earnings per share over time. The 5-Year Expected EPS Growth Rate is a long-term annual growth estimate, where the growth projections are made by analysts, the company or other credible sources.

We first looked for small cap oil and gas drilling stocks. We then screened for businesses that have high future earnings per share growth forecasts (5-year projected EPS Growth Rate >25%). We next screened for businesses that analysts rate as "Buy" (2 < mean recommendation < 3).

Do you think these small-cap stocks should be trading higher? Use our list along with your own analysis.

1) Northern Oil & Gas, Inc. (NYSEMKT:NOG)

Sector:Basic Materials
Industry:Oil & Gas Drilling & Exploration
Market Cap:$976.15M
Beta:1.69

Northern Oil & Gas, Inc. has a 5-Year Projected Earnings Per Share Growth Rate of 35.00% and Analysts' Rating of 2.00. The short interest was 18.17% as of 08/06/2012. Northern Oil & Gas, Inc., an independent energy company, engages in the acquisition, exploration, development, and production of crude oil and natural gas properties primarily in the Bakken and Three Forks formations within the Williston Basin in North Dakota and Montana. As of December 31, 2011, the company owned working interests in 664 discoveries, consisting of 659 targeting the Bakken and Three Forks formations, and 5 exploratory wells targeting other formations; and developed approximately 52,219 net acres and had approximately 17,290 net acres in the process of drilling and completing.

2) Rex Energy Corporation (NASDAQ:REXX)

Sector:Basic Materials
Industry:Oil & Gas Drilling & Exploration
Market Cap:$669.88M
Beta:2.23

Rex Energy Corporation has a 5-Year Projected Earnings Per Share Growth Rate of 50.00% and Analysts' Rating of 1.90. The short interest was 21.54% as of 08/06/2012. Rex Energy Corporation operates as an independent oil and gas company in the Appalachian Basin and the Illinois Basin. It focuses on the Marcellus Shale drilling projects, and Utica Shale and Upper Devonian Shale exploration activities in the Appalachian Basin. The company also holds interests in the Lawrence Field ASP Flood project, which is an oil recovery project located in Lawrence County, Illinois.

3) Approach Resources, Inc. (NASDAQ:AREX)

Sector:Basic Materials
Industry:Oil & Gas Drilling & Exploration
Market Cap:$907.12M
Beta:1.33

Approach Resources, Inc. has a 5-Year Projected Earnings Per Share Growth Rate of 34.32% and Analysts' Rating of 1.90. The short interest was 14.56% as of 08/06/2012. Approach Resources Inc., an independent energy company, engages in the acquisition, exploration, development, and production of oil and gas properties in the United States. The company primarily holds interests in properties located in the Permian Basin in West Texas, as well as in the East Texas Basin.

*Company profiles were sourced from Google Finance and Yahoo Finance. Financial data was sourced from Finviz.

Source: 3 Analyst-Approved Small Cap Oil & Gas Drilling Stocks With Growth On The Horizon