While different investors look for different types of returns from their portfolio, one thing is certain that capital appreciation is generally the biggest draw for an investor. You may look for a stock with attractive dividend return, but you wouldn't want it at the cost of eroding your capital investment. Thus, looking at a stock's performance over the period of the last 52 weeks is an important metric for stock picking.
I have a special liking for the energy sector because although it has not performed very well lately, I think this is a good time to pick up some stocks at a significantly lower price. Here, I have compiled a list of companies in the energy sector with market caps over a billion dollars that have given investors the highest returns over the last year. I have simply taken the 52-week returns they have given without taking into account the highs and lows of the stocks. Basically, the 52-week return figures will tell you how much you would have made had you bought the corresponding stock on October 30, 2011, and sold it today.
Marathon Petroleum Corp. (MPC): This $18.81 billion company is involved in the business of refining, marketing and transporting petroleum products. The stock oscillated in the range of $30.24 and $60.04 in the past 52 weeks and its return in the last 52 weeks stands at about 49 percent. Additionally, this tidy capital appreciation is accompanied by a decent 2.52% dividend yield. The company is scheduled to report its third quarter numbers on November 1. Analysts are expecting it to announce quarterly revenue at $19.59 billion, down 5.1%from its revenue from the corresponding quarter of the last year, while its EPS is expected to be at $3.19, up 0.9% from the EPS it had reported in the prior year quarter. The company also recently successfully raised $380.6 million via an IPO for its pipeline subsidiary.
Ecopetrol SA (EC): The company is based out of Colombia and was formed in 1951. This oil exploration company gave 45% return in the last 52 weeks. Ecopetrol reported its third quarter results and announced 1.6% increase in its production over the corresponding quarter of the last year. The company also recently submitted top bids for 12 exploratory blocks in the Round Colombia 2012. Ecopetrol holds 100% interest in six of these blocks whereas in the remaining six blocks it has partnership with various companies such as Hocol, Repsol and ExxonMobil (XOM). The company is expected to invest about $370 million in these blocks over the course of the next three years. The stock also offers about 2.19% dividend yield. However, the company's operations are closely aligned to the political and regulatory environment in Colombia and thus I would make it a point to very carefully examine the external environment before taking a call on this stock.
Nexen Inc. (NXY): The company reported rather disappointing results for its third quarter. Nexen's quarterly profit fell 71% to $59.5 million. On per share basis, its net income stood at 11 Canadian cents, down from 32 Canadian cents per share it had earned for the corresponding quarter of the last year. However, it reported 7% increase in net sales to C$1.5 billion. The stock delivered 38% return in the past 52 weeks. The major chunk of this capital appreciation came in the wake of its takeover agreement with CNOOC (CEO). Nexen expects the deal to be completed in the fourth quarter of this year. However, shadows of doubt linger as the Canadian government prepares to give its verdict on this in November. The deal was priced at $27.50 per share of Nexen.
Williams Companies Inc. (WMB): The stock gave 37% return in the last 52 weeks along with 3.59% in dividend yield. The company also has a solid market capitalization of $27.97 billion. Williams Companies met analysts' expectations for its previous quarter, while it surpassed them in the quarter before that. The stock has been attracting insider interest as well. The company works as an energy infrastructure company and it is mainly operational in the United States. The company is based out of Tulsa in Oklahoma and it was formed in 1908. The stock is currently about 10% down from its 52 weeks high price of $37.56. Its lowest price point for the past 52 weeks stood at $26.21.
EOG Resources Inc. (EOG): The company is involved in the business of exploring, developing and marketing crude oil and natural gas. If you'd bought this stock a year back, you could have appreciated your capital investment by 23%. EOG Resources stock oscillated in the range of $82.48 and $119.97 in the past 52 weeks and the stock is currently trading at the Price Earnings ratio of 22.24. The company is currently rumored to be an acquisition target for Exxon. US Capital Advisors LLC expects the company's reserves in Eagle Ford Shale to be an attractive asset for Exxon. EOG and Exxon, however, declined to make any comment about this acquisition plans. US Capital Advisor has tentatively valued the EOG stock at $149 a share, in the case of acquisition.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.