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An Analyst Downgrade Sinks Gulfport Energy Corporation Today

By Matthew DiLallo - Feb 23, 2016 at 3:44PM

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It’s also not helping matters that oil is down today.

What: Shares of Gulfport Energy (GPOR) dropped as much as 10% by mid-afternoon on Tuesday. Today's sell-off was mainly driven by an analyst downgrade, though weaker oil prices didn't help matters very much.

So what: Oil slumped 4.5% today to close at just less than $32 per barrel, giving back most of what it gained yesterday. Weighing on crude today were comments by Saudi Arabia Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi, who pretty much shut down any hope of a coordinated production cut by OPEC and non-members. That's only going to further delay a rebalancing of the oil market, especially with Iran's output expected to grow.

Those dour comments weighed on most energy stocks today, including Gulfport Energy. However, that wasn't the only weight it had to bear. The company was also downgraded by Euro Pacific Capital, from buy to neutral. Analysts, in general, have a very mixed opinion. The stock was recently reiterated as a buy at Stifel Nicolaus, and overweight at JP Morgan, while Seaport Global downgraded it, from buy to neutral.

Analysts have good reason to have mixed feelings. On the plus side, Gulfport Energy recently reported its fourth-quarter results, which showed strong production growth that exceeded the high-end of the company's guidance. Further, unlike most shale drillers, the company is planning for strong production growth in 2016, despite spending significantly less capital. With the market oversupplied, there's no reason to grow production right now, which is reason enough for some analysts to be cautious.

Now what: Right now, it's tough to be all that bullish on energy stocks, at least given the short-term outlook, which is marred by persistent oversupply. While Gulfport Energy is handling this environment better than most, it's running the risk of drilling itself into a deep hole by pursuing production growth when the market doesn't need any more production right now.

Matt DiLallo has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. 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.

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