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 independent energy company Northern Oil and Gas (NYSE: NOG) slumped as much as 11% in intraday trading on heavy volume.

So what: Independent oil and gas players in general were struggling today as Brigham Exploration (Nasdaq: BEXP) and Kodiak Oil & Gas (NYSE: KOG) joined Northern in declines. However, Northern has been the subject of some very unflattering coverage recently, which likely explains why it's down much more than comparable companies. In a note today, Barron's highlighted the continued insider selling that's gone on at Northern, including a $22 million sale by CEO Michael Lewis Reger last Friday. Meanwhile, self-proclaimed online fraud-fighter The Street Sweeper has posted a two-part missive on Northern that suggests it could be a "looming horror story."

Now what: The bears seem to have the upper hand today, but that doesn't mean that there aren't any bulls to be found. Wall Street analysts currently have an average target price of $35 for the stock and a long-term growth rate of 30%. Currently, the company's equity is valued at roughly $1.6 billion, and that's on just $60 million in total 2010 revenue, so the beef of the Northern story is a future promise. But bullish analysts or not, a speculative play like this holds little interest for this Fool and much less so when there are serious red flags being raised about management.

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