Oil and gas producers are spending billions to take advantage of the vast resources they've been able to unlock thanks to horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing. The large list of companies, and therefore the potential investment opportunities, can make it difficult to determine which company is worthy of your investment dollars. I've found three companies, each with a specific catalyst, that make interesting energy stocks to buy right now.
Gulfport Energy (NASDAQ:GPOR)
While many of its peers are talking about wanting to increase liquids production, Gulfport is already there. Last year oil and natural gas liquids were 93% of production and the company is levered to some of the most prolific liquids plays in the country. The problem is that the play that Gulfport is most levered to, the Utica, has lost its allure with other producers. Several of these peers, including Chesapeake Energy (NYSE:CHK) and Devon Energy (NYSE:DVN), have decided to pull back on the Utica after being disappointed by the lack of oil coming out of the play.
Gulfport on the other hand has found the liquids sweet spot and sees it being a catalyst for production growth. The company has drilled some of the best wells in the play and because of that it is now spending nearly $500 million of its $580 million capital budget to further develop its acreage there. Gulfport's success in the Utica, combined with the rest of its high-margin oily assets, makes it a very interesting stock to buy.
SandRidge Energy (UNKNOWN:SD.DL)
Like Gulfport, you can pretty much sum up SandRidge's future by its focus on one play: the Mississippian Lime. Like the Utica, the Miss hasn't turned out to be as oily as producers like Devon and Chesapeake would have liked, which is why both have recently sold some acreage in that play. However, SandRige, like Gulfport, has found a position in a play that it likes and is investing heavily in that play to grow production.
For SandRidge, this means divesting its Permian Basin acreage and refocusing its strategic plan. The refined plan has the company cutting its capex to only focus on its core acres in the play. This is reducing risk while also helping the company focus its capital to grow its oil production as a percentage of its overall production. The improving fundamentals are the story here and SandRidge is a very interesting oil stock to buy right now.
Ultra Petroleum (NASDAQ:UPL)
With Ultra the story changes from a focus on oil and liquids to one of natural gas. The story changes even further because Ultra has shied away from the standard industry practice of growth for the sake of growth. Instead, it has decided to invest only within its cash flow.
This discipline has been evidenced by a cut in its capex from $1.56 billion in 2011 to just $415 million this year. Despite the fiscal belt-tightening, Ultra is projecting to still grow its production by 42% while doubling its EBITDA by 2016. That's a lot of growth in a stock you can buy right now at what could be a fraction of its future worth.
Foolish bottom line
In each case you have a company that's focused on doing one thing, and doing it right. To that end all three have a plan in place to deliver very compelling production growth. What's most interesting is that all three are investing where others fear to tread, which is why I think all three make compelling stocks to buy right now.
Motley Fool contributor Matt DiLallo has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Ultra Petroleum. The Motley Fool owns shares of Devon Energy and Ultra Petroleum and has the following options: Long Jan 2014 $20 Calls on Chesapeake Energy, Long Jan 2014 $30 Calls on Chesapeake Energy, Short Jan 2014 $15 Puts on Chesapeake Energy, Long Jan 2014 $30 Calls on Ultra Petroleum, Long Jan 2014 $40 Calls on Ultra Petroleum, and Long Jan 2014 $50 Calls on Ultra Petroleum. 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.