Insiders Are Buying These 2 Large Energy Plays

Includes: EOG, MUR
by: Bret Jensen

The market is up more than 25% overall this year and the NASDAQ is up more than a third so far in 2013 heading into the last few trading sessions of the year. As should be expected, insider buying is at lower levels than it was to start the year as valuations have risen substantially.

I am putting more weight on insider buying as a result. This week as I peruse the Barron's top 20 insider buys in this week's magazine, I saw some new buying in the energy complex.

Given WTI just surpassed $100/barrel for the first time in two months on Friday, I thought it would be a good time to look at two large E & P plays that have had recent large insider buys.

EOG Resources (NYSE:EOG) is the biggest leaseholder in the Eagle Ford shale region where production is exploding. An insider added over $1mm in new shares recently. This follows another over $500K purchase by another insider in late November.

Insiders are not the only ones that like EOG heading into 2014. Credit Suisse listed the company as one of its top three E & P picks in the New Year and also believes it could be a buyout candidate.

One of the more attractive features of the investment case for EOG is its production growth. Revenues are tracking to ~25% gains in this fiscal year and analysts expect sales growth in the mid-teens in the coming year as well. The company has crushed bottom line consensus estimates in each of the last six quarters.

The stock does sell for just under 19x forward earnings, a bit above the overall market multiple of ~15-16x forward earnings. However, that it is discount to EOG's five year average (26.8). EOG is one of Jim Cramer's favorite Eagle Ford shale plays. S&P also has its highest rating "Strong Buy" and a $197 a share price target on EOG, ~20% above its current price level.

Murphy Oil Corporation (NYSE:MUR) is involved in the exploration and production of oil and gas properties worldwide. It is also engaged in oil and gas refining and marketing activities. However it spun off most of its refining/marketing assets recently.

Murphy continues to see progress from its efforts to raise production and become a purer E & P play. In its last reported quarter, oil production grew more than 30% Y/Y and total energy production grew 14% Y/Y.

An insider bought over $1mm in the last reported week and this follows significant other insider buys in recent months. The stock is not expensive at ~10x forward earnings and it also pays a 2% dividend as well.

Disclosure: I am long EOG. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.