After beating estimates last quarter by $0.02, Plains Exploration & Production Company (NYSE: PXP) has set the standard for itself. The company will unveil its latest earnings on Friday, Nov. 4. Plains Exploration & Production Company is an independent oil and gas company that is engaged in acquiring, developing, exploiting, exploring, and producing oil and gas properties in the United States.

What analysts say:

  • Buy, sell, or hold?: Analysts strongly back Plains Exploration & Production Company, with 11 of 14 rating it a buy and the remainder rating it a hold. Analysts like Plains Exploration & Production Company better than competitor McMoRan Exploration overall. While analysts still rate the stock a moderate buy, they are a little more optimistic about it compared to three months ago.
  • Revenue Forecasts: On average, analysts predict $489.5 million in revenue this quarter. That would represent a rise of 26.2% from the year-ago quarter.
  • Wall Street Earnings Expectations: The average analyst estimate is earnings of $0.40 per share. Estimates range from $0.20 to $0.59.

What our community says:
CAPS All-Stars are solidly backing the stock with 97.5% granting it an "outperform" rating. The community at large agrees with the All-Stars with 97.4% assigning it a rating of "outperform." Fools are bullish on Plains Exploration & Production Company and haven't been shy with their opinions lately, logging 121 posts in the past 30 days. Plains Exploration & Production Company has a bullish CAPS rating of five out of five stars that is about on par with the Fool community assessment.

Management:
Now let's look at how efficient management is at running the business. Traditionally, margins represent the efficiency with which companies capture portions of sales dollars. The following table shows gross, operating, and net margins over the past four quarters. 

Quarter Q2 Q1 Q4 Q3
Gross Margin 72.2% 71.6% 70.2% 69.2%
Operating Margin 36.2% 31.1% 22.7% 25.0%
Net Margin 24.3% 16.5% (4.8%) 4.9%

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