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Why You Shouldn't Sell During a Panic

By Callum Turcan – Feb 21, 2014 at 9:54AM

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Noble Energy recently updated investors on current and future operations

When Noble Energy (NBL) first released earnings, investors panicked and began selling. But those who sold in the panic got burned, as Noble Energy rallied almost 6% the next day. This is a perfect example of why investors shouldn't get too bogged down in Wall Street estimates.

Due to rising expense Noble missed EPS guidance, which spooked investors a bit. But after investors took a second look at what Noble had to offer, from onshore shale growth to its Israeli operations, they decided to buy back in on the dip.

Please stop falling, oh, there you go
It was a choppy trading day for Noble after earnings were announced, but the next day gave investors something to cheer about. The point is that you should always think carefully before selling your holdings; sometimes fear can get in the way of market-beating returns.

So what's new
Noble Energy continues to do what's best to keep growing its growth runway. Most of that is developing its assets to boost its proven reserves. In 2013, Noble Energy was able to add 369 MMBoe to its total proven reserves, or 3.5 times that years production. As Noble Energy keeps adding to its proven reserve base, then it doesn't have to worry about relying on mature fields or new acquisitions to find future growth.

The bright spot in Noble Energy's reserve update is that North American proven reserves jumped 299MMboe, or 534% of last year's output. Heavy investment in the DJ Basin seems to be paying off, with output growth 16% higher than in the fourth quarter last year. Noble Energy produced a record amount of output from the DJ-Basin, with production hitting over 100,000 bpd as reserved skyrocketed. 2014 will be no different as Noble pours almost half of its capex back into the region to grow output.

Colorado isn't the only area Noble's betting on, the Marcellus shale has also seen some attention. With output up 61% year over year, this is definitely a play to watch out for. While the Marcellus production mix may be significantly more weighted toward dry gas, keep in mind dry gas prices have shot back up to $5 mmBtu.

By playing the wet gas shale plays, Noble Energy is able to profit from rising oil, NGL, and dry gas prices. Diversifying your energy commodity base can help protect shareholder value though a mild amount of diversity, as diverse as you can get when you are an E&P player.

Noble isn't just an onshore unconventional E&P shale player; it operates major offshore operations around the world.

Gulf
In the Gulf of Mexico, the start-up of the Ticonderoga #4 well contributed 21,000 boe/d to production in the fourth quarter. The approval of the Big Bend project is now official, and Noble Energy will own a 54% working interest in the project and will be the operator. W&T Offshore Inc (WTI 0.15%) will take a 20% interest in the project, so W&T Offshore investors should take a close look at what management has to say about the project.

W&T Offshore is a much smaller company than Noble Energy, with a market cap of just $1.1 billion while Noble Energy is worth $24 billion. This means W&T Offshore investors have a lot more riding on this project, so they are hoping production will come online by 2015.

If Noble Energy can bring production online then the Big Bend project will be able to tap into at least 100 MMBoe, which is huge for both Noble Energy and W&T Offshore. Noble Energy is also investing in the Gunflint project so it can access additional reserves in

Noble Energy owns 31.14% of the project, while Marathon Oil (MRO 0.92%) owns 18.32%. There could be as much as 90 million barrels of recoverable resources in the area, offering plenty of cash if everything goes smoothly. Marathon Oil has an asset portfolio similar to that of Noble Energy; a combination of offshore projects and onshore American shale plays.

The Gunflint project won't start producing until at least 2016 and the Big Bend will take until at least 2015 until its fully operational, but for investors looking to invest in major projects down the road, Noble Energy may be the right option.

Foolish conclusion
At first investors panicked and sold some of their Noble Energy shares, but for those who stayed on they were greatly reward with a nice bounce the next day. Noble Energy reported a solid quarter, its DJ Basin and Marcellus operations continue to see high double digit output growth, and the Gulf of Mexico continues to provide a rock-solid path to long-term production. 

Callum Turcan owns Aug 16 Noble Energy call options. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. 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.

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Stocks Mentioned

Noble Energy Stock Quote
Noble Energy
NBL
Marathon Oil Stock Quote
Marathon Oil
MRO
$30.63 (0.92%) $0.28
W&T Offshore, Inc. Stock Quote
W&T Offshore, Inc.
WTI
$6.87 (0.15%) $0.01

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