The best, and only, thing that a management team should really focus on is what's best for the long-term success of a company and its investors. That doesn't mean doing what's popular today among analysts or professional investors, and sometimes that means paying a short-term price in the stock's valuation. But while Apache (NYSE:APA) might not get its full due today, I still believe this is a better-than-average energy idea for long-term investors.

Performance in this second quarter was not necessarily fabulous, but it was certainly solid. Revenue was up 17%, and although reported operating income was up a bit less than 8%, cash flow from operations and net income were both a fair bit stronger (up 14% and 23%, respectively).

Virtually every energy company with a real business has a three-part model to its lifeblood -- production, realizations (price), and costs. On the production side, Apache saw nearly 7% higher overall production, as gas rose strongly and oil fell slightly. With realizations, the opposite was true; oil realizations were up 33%, and gas was down 13%. Though costs continue to rise across the industry, Apache is still doing quite well on a relative basis.

Investor fancies in the energy sector certainly shift around from time to time. Some months see folks piling into gas-heavy ideas like Chesapeake (NYSE:CHK). In other stretches of time, big international firms like ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM) or Total (NYSE:TOT) are the more popular choices. Right now, companies with more conventional assets and/or positions in the Gulf of Mexico -- companies like Apache, Devon (NYSE:DVN), and Talisman (NYSE:TLM) seem to be getting the shorter end of the relative value stick.

If you're a true value investor, this should make you happy. Buying proven companies with quality management when the Street temporarily ignores or misprices them is one of the best long-term strategies for success. While there are absolutely no guarantees when it comes to commodity companies, I really do believe that investors could do much worse than showing some long-term patience with a company like Apache.

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Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).