We've moved well into earnings season, the ritual during which public companies tell us about their quarterly results, which the investment community immediately labels a "beat" or a "miss," depending on the expectations propounded earlier by the Wall Street types who keep tabs on the companies and their peers.
I've long been of the opinion that dispensing results four times yearly is about twice as often as is appropriate, resulting as it does in corporate powers-that-be managing for the quarter, rather than for the longer-term best interests of their companies. Further, the analysts, upon whose forecasts the quality of a company's results are judged, are often insufficiently informed to justify the importance accorded their estimates.
Nevertheless, given my feelings about the importance of the energy sector in today's world, I suggest that we take a quick look at a few of the more attractive oil- and gas-related companies that are poised to provide quarterly information to investors.
First the biggest
Let's begin with Schlumberger
In addition, each quarter the company describes both its own activities and accomplishments during the period, while providing a solid macro look at the areas of geographic and operating strength and weakness prevailing in the industry. As such, attention to the company's output provides energy investors with a valuable big-picture update.
Expectations are that all of the four biggest services companies will check in with higher year-over-year earnings. In Schlumberger's case, that likely means growth approaching 30% to about $1.09 per share. The big enchilada of services is also expected to maintain a forward dividend yield of approximately $1.50.
And here, representing Big Oil...
Among the members of Big Oil, Chevron
Chevron also benefits from its varied operating locations, as well as from those places where it isn't. For instance, the company is one of the major producers in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, the onshore Gulf area, the Rocky Mountains, and Alaska. In Australia, it's a leader in the development of massive LNG projects in the offshore northwest part of the country. In Canada, it's active in the Athabasca Oil Sands Expansion Project and off the Maritime Provinces to the east.
Chevron is the only large integrated company with upstream operations in Saudi Arabia, and it joins a host of other companies in such active locations as South America and Africa. In addition, it just might benefit from not being a part of the consortia in Iraq or in currently unstable Russia.
Solidly positioned EOG
Not long ago, I extolled to Fools the virtues of EOG Resources
While EOG won't report until Feb. 13, its earnings are expected to expand by well over 100% to $0.84 per share. Its forward dividend yield is 0.60%.
A popularity contest winner
Among the oil-field services companies that are not included among the four major companies, it's difficult to find a more popular name than National Oilwell Varco
All it's cracked up to be
Next week, Houston-based CARBO Ceramics
CARBO Ceramics is expected to have nearly doubled its year-over-year earnings to $1.68 per share in the fourth quarter of 2011. Furthermore, its forward yield is likely to remain at approximately 0.80%.
There are numerous other quality energy companies queued up to report results for the fourth quarter of 2011. Those above are among my favorites; however, if you're looking for more ideas, The Motley Fool has created a special oil report titled "3 Stocks for $100 Oil," which you can download today, absolutely free. In this report, Fool analysts cover three outstanding oil companies. To get instant access to the names of the three oil stocks, click here -- it's free.
The Motley Fool owns shares of National Oilwell Varco. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of National Oilwell Varco, Schlumberger, and Chevron. 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. Fool contributor David Lee Smith doesn't own shares in any of the companies named in this article. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.