It might be prudent for the larger energy companies to pretend they've become extinct and not report results for the September-ended quarter.

The group's already being targeted in some quarters for punitive treatment by the tax man, given that its members are benefiting from a nearly linear growth in crude prices that finally hit an inflection point and headed south in July. But with the average crude price for the September period more than 55% higher than in the September 2007 period, watch for earnings jumps that'll renew the call for windfall profits taxes.

Chevron (NYSE:CVX), for instance, will start things off Thursday, with what's expected to be about a 57% hike in year-over-year revenues and a 64% jump on the per-share line. It'll be followed by the other two members of the largest U.S.-based integrated trio, ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM) and ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP), from which the dart-throwers are expecting EPS jumps of 41% and 64%, respectively.

And then there are the oilfield service players. Schlumberger (NYSE:SLB), the king of the beasts in the group, is forecast to raise its per-share number by about 15% -- not up to the level of the big producers, but lots better than chopped liver. And the biggest of the offshore drillers, Transocean (NYSE:RIG), is expected to increase its EPS by something approaching 65%.

But despite their earnings growth, the energy names haven't received any kinder treatment by Mr. Market than have most other groups. The three big producers mentioned above have averaged price declines approaching 30% from their 52-week highs. And the two services stocks are down an average of, gulp, around 47% from their highs.

Oil prices are likely to stay high by historical norms, and long-term oil demand isn't going anywhere, so I'm inclined to suggest that Fools look for service sector names for a serious bounce back when the market turns. 

ConocoPhillips, Schlumberger, and Transocean are all adorned with the maximum five stars by Motley Fool CAPS players. Why not add your opinion to the mix?

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Fool contributor David Lee Smith doesn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned above. He does welcome your questions, comments, or kibitzing. The Fool has a well-oiled disclosure policy