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Northern Oil and Gas Shares Popped: What You Need to Know

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Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of Northern Oil and Gas (NYSE: NOG  ) gushed 10% higher this morning on news that oil stock specialist Capital One Southcoast has upgraded the stock to strong buy.

So what: Precisely. So what? Here at The Motley Fool, we've been tracking Capital One's performance as an oil analyst for years, and -- how do I say this nicely? -- when it comes to oil wildcatters, nobody coughs up more hairballs than Cap One. As of this writing, this analyst has managed the neat feat of getting precisely 50% of its 22 active oil and gas recommendations right, and 50% wrong -- yet still underperforming the S&P 500 by a combined 259 percentage points!

Now what: And now here comes Capital One with another pick on a profitless oil producer, telling us to buy it ahead of next year's projected profit. Should you listen?

It depends. Personally, if I were in the market for an oil stock I'd head straight to ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM  ) . It's profitable, free cash flow positive, pays a nice dividend, and costs just nine times next year's estimated earnings. Of course, if you prefer to buy a company that's unprofitable today, and burning cash, because it's priced at 10 times what it might earn next year, then maybe Northern Oil is the stock for you.

Bears versus Bulls -- who will carry the day? Add Northern Oil and Gas to your watchlist and find out.

Fool contributor Rich Smith does not own stocks in any of the companies mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.

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