Oil and gas prices were on the move today as positive economic releases in the U.S. pushed all markets up. At 5:00 pm ET on Tuesday, Brent crude was up 1.29% to $109.56 and WTI crude was up 1.46% to $96.19. U.S. natural gas was up 2.06% to $4.00.
Today's top stocks
Today's oil and gas stocks leader was Quicksilver Resources (NASDAQOTH:KWKAQ), up 9.46% to $2.43. After the market closed Friday, Quicksilver Resources filed its annual report and announced that its fourth-quarter and full-year earnings were better than reported in its preliminary look on Feb. 25, as the company determined that certain hedges didn't qualify for hedge accounting. The change makes QuickSilver's Q4 net loss just $548 million, as opposed to the previously reported $1.1 billion. The change also makes the company's full year loss just $2.4 billion, down from a loss of $2.5 billion.
While the changes make Q4 net income look better, they're just a change in accounting, and as the company states in its report, "All adjustments described above are non-cash." With a large debt load and questionable ability to continue for the long run, I'd pass on Quicksilver Resources.
Second among oil and gas stocks today was Gulfport Energy (NASDAQ:GPOR) up 7.75% to $46.44. The company hit a 52-week high today on no news. Gulfport Energy has significant holdings in the Utica Shale, just behind Chesapeake Energy (NYSE:CHK) which is the largest leaseholder in the play.
While Gulfport Energy may make money for shareholders, its management is not aligned with shareholders. Gulfport has been buying acreage from a private equity firm run by its chairman of the board, Mike Liddell. He has a 0.86% stake in Gulfport but gets 10% of the profits of the private equity firm. It seems related-party transactions have been a mainstay of the oil and gas business the past few years, with Chesapeake's Aubrey McClendon finally kicked out. More recently we've seen Tom Ward get in trouble at SandRidge Energy (UNKNOWN:SD.DL) for similar deals, as well as allowing a firm run by his son to purchase land and drill wells near SandRidge operations. With management not aligned with shareholders, this is an easy pass.
Third among oil and gas stocks today was Halcon Resources (NYSE:HK), up 5.51% to $7.66. Halcon makes the top three for the second day in a row. Yesterday, ZaZa Energy announced that it was selling acreage in the center of Texas, and the company also announced that it's partnering with "one of the largest independent crude oil and natural gas companies in the U.S. to further develop ZaZa's Eaglebine assets." Halcon has major holdings throughout the region (denoted by the yellow in the following chart), and increased interest in the region is positive for Halcon's asset values in the region.
Motley Fool energy analyst Joel South recently laid out why Halcon Resources is one of his top two holdings. You can see his video here to find out why.