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If you're an investor who loves growth opportunities, chances are you follow the oil and gas sector closely. Here you will find companies that have growth projections that outmatch most other categories. To up the growth factor, we focused solely on small caps today. All of the companies on our list have EPS growth rates way above 25% for the coming year. But growth is not the only attribute these oil and gas stocks have in their favor -- analysts have recently granted them either a "Buy" or "Strong Buy" rating. We think you will be intrigued by what we found.

EPS growth (earnings per share growth) illustrates the growth of earnings per share over time. The 1-Year Expected EPS Growth Rate is an annual growth estimate, where the growth projections are made by analysts, the company or other credible sources.

We first looked for small cap oil & gas stocks. We then screened for businesses that analysts rate as "Buy" or "Strong Buy" (mean recommendation < 3). We then screened for businesses that have expected earnings per share growth of more than 25 percent for next year (1-year projected EPS Growth Rate>25%).

Do you think these small-cap stocks will go up in price? Use our list to help with your own analysis.

1) Swift Energy Co. (SFY)

SectorBasic Materials
IndustryIndependent Oil & Gas
Market Cap$876.24M
Beta1.95

SFY stock chart

Key Metrics

Analysts' Rating1.80
1-Year Projected Earnings Per Share Growth Rate235.71%
Short Interest10.44%

Swift Energy Company engages in acquiring, exploring, developing, and operating oil and natural gas properties. It focuses on oil and natural gas reserves in Texas, as well as onshore and in the inland waters of Louisiana. As of December 31, 2011, the company had estimated proved reserves of 159.6 million barrels of oil equivalent. Swift Energy Company was founded in 1979 and is headquartered in Houston, Texas.

2) Comstock Resources Inc. (CRK)

SectorBasic Materials
IndustryIndependent Oil & Gas
Market Cap$798.49M
Beta0.92

CRK stock chart

Key Metrics

Analysts' Rating2.20
1-Year Projected Earnings Per Share Growth Rate203.80%
Short Interest28.72%

Comstock Resources, Inc. engages in the acquisition, exploration, development, and production of oil and natural gas properties in the United States. The company's oil and gas operations are primarily located in east Texas/north Louisiana, south Texas, and west Texas, as well as in New Mexico, Kentucky, and the Mid-Continent region. It owns interests in approximately 1,711 producing oil and natural gas wells, as well as operates 974 of those wells. As of December 31, 2011, the company had proved reserves of 1.3 trillion cubic feet of natural gas equivalent. Comstock Resources, Inc. was founded in 1919 and is headquartered in Frisco, Texas.

3) Crosstex Energy LP (XTEX)

SectorBasic Materials
IndustryIndependent Oil & Gas
Market Cap$929.94M
Beta1.31

XTEX stock chart

Key Metrics

Analysts' Rating2.50
1-Year Projected Earnings Per Share Growth Rate97.20%
Short Interest1.65%

Crosstex Energy, L.P. operates as an independent midstream energy company. The company, through its subsidiary, Crosstex Energy Services, L.P., engages in gathering, transmission, processing, and marketing natural gas and natural gas liquids ((NGLS)) in the north Texas Barnett shale area and Louisiana. Its activities include connecting the wells of natural gas producers to its gathering systems; processing natural gas for the removal of NGLs; fractionating NGLs into purity products, such as ethane, propane, isobutene, normal butane, natural gasoline, and stabilized condensate; marketing those NGL products; transporting natural gas; and providing it to various markets. The company also purchases natural gas from natural gas producers and other supply sources, and sells that natural gas to utilities, industrial consumers, and other marketers and pipelines. In addition, it purchases natural gas from producers not connected to its gathering systems for resale. The company operates approximately 3,300 miles of natural gas gathering and transmission and NGL pipelines. Crosstex Energy GP, LLC serves as the general partner of the company. Crosstex Energy, L.P. was founded in 1992 and is headquartered in Dallas, Texas.

4) Bonanza Creek Energy, Inc. (BCEI)

SectorBasic Materials
IndustryIndependent Oil & Gas
Market Cap$797.00M
Beta-

BCEI stock chart

Key Metrics

Analysts' Rating2.00
1-Year Projected Earnings Per Share Growth Rate75.36%
Short Interest2.42%

Bonanza Creek Energy, Inc. operates as an independent oil and natural gas company in the United States. It primarily engages in the acquisition, exploration, development, and production of onshore oil and natural gas assets in southern Arkansas of the Mid-Continent region; and the Wattenberg field and North Park basins of the Rocky Mountain region. The company also owns and operates oil producing assets in the San Joaquin Basin of the California region. Bonanza Creek Energy, Inc. was founded in 2010 and is based in Denver, Colorado.

5) Goodrich Petroleum Corp. (GDP)

SectorBasic Materials
IndustryIndependent Oil & Gas
Market Cap$511.64M
Beta1.08

GDP stock chart

Key Metrics

Analysts' Rating2.30
1-Year Projected Earnings Per Share Growth Rate83.30%
Short Interest29.51%

Goodrich Petroleum Corporation, an independent oil and natural gas company, engages in the exploration, development, and production of oil and natural gas. The company holds interest in the Eagle Ford Shale and Buda Lime formations in south Texas; Haynesville Shale and Cotton Valley Taylor Sand in northwest Louisiana and east Texas; Tuscaloosa Marine Shale in southeast Louisiana and southwest Mississippi; the Midway field located in San Patricio County, Texas; and the Garfield Unit in Kalkaska County, Michigan. It owns working interests in 401 producing oil and natural gas wells located in 29 fields in five states. As of December 31, 2011, the company had estimated proved reserves of approximately 463.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas, 0.5 million barrels of crude oil or other liquid hydrocarbons (MMBbls) of natural gas liquids, and 5.8 MMBbls of oil and condensate. Goodrich Petroleum Corporation was founded in 1970 and is headquartered in Houston, Texas.

6) PetroQuest Energy Inc. (PQ)

SectorBasic Materials
IndustryIndependent Oil & Gas
Market Cap$404.79M
Beta1.58

PQ stock chart

Key Metrics

Analysts' Rating2.30
1-Year Projected Earnings Per Share Growth Rate385.71%
Short Interest10.83%

PetroQuest Energy, Inc. operates as an independent oil and gas company. It engages in the acquisition, exploration, development, and operation of oil and gas properties in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Wyoming, and Texas, as well as onshore and in the shallow waters offshore the Gulf Coast Basin. As of December 31, 2011, it had estimated proved reserves of 1,395 thousand barrels of oil, 15,111 million cubic feet equivalent of natural gas liquids, and 241,926 million cubic feet of natural gas. The company owned working interests in 22 net producing oil wells and 292 net producing gas wells. PetroQuest Energy, Inc. was founded in 1983 and is headquartered in Lafayette, Louisiana.

7) Resolute Energy Corporation (REN)

SectorBasic Materials
IndustryIndependent Oil & Gas
Market Cap$563.82M
Beta0.55

REN stock chart

Key Metrics

Analysts' Rating2.10
1-Year Projected Earnings Per Share Growth Rate66.67%
Short Interest12.95%

Resolute Energy Corporation, an independent oil and gas company, engages in the acquisition, exploration, exploitation, and development of oil and gas properties in the United States. It primarily holds interests in the Aneth Field properties that cover approximately 43,000 gross acres on the Navajo Reservation in southeast Utah. The company's producing properties are located in the Powder River Basin, Wyoming; the Bakken shale trend of the Williston Basin in North Dakota; and the Permian Basin of Texas. It also owns exploration properties in the Permian Basin of Texas; and the Big Horn and Powder River Basins of Wyoming. As of December 31, 2011, the company had estimated net proved reserves of approximately 64.8 million equivalent barrels of oil. Resolute Energy Corporation is based in Denver, Colorado.

*Company profiles were sourced from Google Finance and Yahoo Finance. Financial data was sourced from Finviz on 08/28/2012.

Source: 7 Fast Growing Oil & Gas Stocks Favored By Analysts