With 2012 just beginning, now's a smart time to gauge how the stocks you're interested in are likely to do this year and beyond. By knowing what stock analysts and fellow investors expect from a stock, you'll be smarter about whether you should keep buy it for your portfolio -- or sell it if you already own it.

Today, let's take a look at Samson Oil & Gas (AMEX: SSN). As I discussed last month, Samson Oil & Gas had a very strong 2011, as early results from its development operations in the Bakken and Niobrara areas looked very promising. But will Samson have time to keep moving forward, or will the small company get snapped up by a bigger competitor? Below, I'll take a closer look at what people expect from Samson Oil & Gas and its rivals.

Forecasts on Samson Oil & Gas

Median Target Stock Price $6
2011 EPS Estimate $0.01
2012 EPS Estimate $0.08
Forward P/E 27.5
CAPS Rating (out of 5) ***

Source: S&P Capital IQ.

What will 2012 bring for Samson Oil & Gas?
Samson isn't the most-followed stock on Wall Street, but the lone analyst tracking the stock sees it nearly tripling from its current level of just above $2 per share. The best bet to reach that lofty height might be a takeover bid.

Samson's big promise currently comes from its Bakken holdings, where its six producing wells account for the majority of the company's total production. Given the success that other companies are seeing in the region, Samson has reason to be optimistic. Continental Resources (NYSE: CLR) owns more than 900,000 net acres in the region and has seen substantial production growth. Statoil (NYSE: STO) recently bought Brigham Exploration to gain a bigger stake to the play.

But another area, the Niobrara, could be just as important in the long run to Samson. Although the company sold part of its acreage there to Chesapeake Energy (NYSE: CHK) in order to raise cash, it still has holdings there through its Hawk Springs project. With both Chesapeake and Devon Energy (NYSE: DVN) owning property nearby, all three companies are hoping that the Denver-Julesburg Basin region of the Niobrara will pay off.

Small exploration companies are always a speculative play. But Samson has a lot going for it, and whether it attracts merger interest or just keeps drilling on its own, Samson is right to look forward to a strong 2012.

But Samson isn't the only stock that will benefit from continued interest in energy. Learn the names of three more stocks that will prosper from $100 oil in the Motley Fool's latest special free report on energy. It's yours free, but only for a limited time, so take a look today.

Click here to add Samson Oil & Gas to My Watchlist, which can find all of our Foolish analysis on it and all your other stocks.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.