A lot of hype surrounds the Bakken reserves and the companies operating within that region these days. Not surprisingly, investors have their sights set on these companies hoping for big returns in the future. Let's take a look at one such Bakken player, Brigham Exploration (Nasdaq: BEXP), and see how it stacks up in terms of profits generated, future growth, and stock price.

Past performance
A few weeks back, I analyzed Brigham's first-quarter results. Although losses on derivative instruments weighed on its profits, the overall results looked pretty impressive. So will Foolish investors gain from this stock?

Performance-wise, Brigham has been impressive. Cash income -- or EBITDA -- is at its highest level since 2006. It registered 130% growth in this department in the trailing-12-month period, ending March 31. EBITDA, as you may know, highlights core earnings through operations before adjusting for noncash expenses such as depreciation and amortization.

Impressive future cash flows
However, while past performance of an exploration and production company is no doubt useful for analyzing its stock, what investors need to emphasize is the company's ability to generate future revenues.

How good are the company's oil and gas reserves? The present value of estimated future cash inflows from proved reserves, less future development and production costs, discounted at 10% per annum, stands at $4.5 billion as of Dec. 31, 2010. This a phenomenal 288% jump from the corresponding value 12 months earlier. For a company whose annual revenues were only $227 million, this is certainly impressive. Brigham definitely shows ample scope to generate profits in the future.

The company's balance sheet, too, looks pretty healthy with a debt-to-equity ratio of 50.1%.

How cheap is the stock?
Price-to-tangible book value (P/TBV) stands at six times. Continental Resources (NYSE: CLR) stands at 6.9, Northern Oil and Gas (AMEX: NOG) at 3.7, and EOG Resources (NYSE: EOG) at 2.9. Compared to peers with operations in the same region and comparable market caps, Brigham's stock looks slightly expensive with respect to its asset value.

Foolish bottom line
Although the stock looks comparatively expensive, I'm not overly worried. With as many as 10 rigs to be up and running in the Williston Basin by July, management is hastening the drilling program. Strategically, Brigham is right up there with the best in business. Advanced technology and innovations have ensured the company has four of its wells among the five highest rate wells in the Williston Basin.

Brigham's solid growth plans and sound business strategy will eventually pay off. Foolish investors are looking at a stock that has the potential to grow in the long term.

Fool contributor Isac Simon does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned in this article. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.