Shares of refiner Alon USA Energy (NYSE:ALJ) have been on a tear post-earnings but the rally of ~20% is a bit excessive with much uncertainty present regarding the permitting for a Big Springs refinery expansion. Also, the restarting of the California refineries is now expected in later 2014 so investors interested in the refining space may gain more alpha looking at a name like Valero (NYSE:VLO). Yes, Valero could be exposed to a reduction in ethanol requirements by the EPA. However, the ability of this company to break down heavy crude oil simply can't be overlooked. Plus, Valero is my name of choice if you want to play the strength in distillate (heating oil) margins. To me Alon USA is still too dependent on asphalt margins and the narrowing of the Brent-WTI spread. Valero is more embracing of future fuels evidenced by its financial support of Enerkem and Mascoma to commercialize biofuels, including ones made from switchgrass cellulosic ethanol. Another name that could see investor interest if profits come out of Alon USA is Phillips 66 (NYSE:PSX)

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