Energy stocks have been the best performers of 2022, with the sector up 48% compared with a 14% loss for the broader market. In fact, the only other sector that has generated a positive return this year is utilities. Their 9% gain pales in comparison.
Fueling the rise in energy stocks has been the stark increase in oil and natural gas prices. At some point, the boom in energy prices will end and energy stocks will almost certainly give back some of their gains. However, that time is not yet here.
And while the rising tide has lifted nearly all boats, it makes sense for investors to focus on the companies with strong earnings and sales growth. They are likely to outperform their peers and retain more of their gains even when the sector turns lower. With that in mind, let’s look at a few energy stocks that investors may want to focus on.
|PXD||Pioneer Natural Resources||$241.97|
Occidental Petroleum (OXY)
Occidental Petroleum (NYSE:OXY) is by far the best performer on this list, boasting a year-to-date gain of 125%. Part of the reason for investors’ enthusiasm centers on Warren Buffett.
Through Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK-A, NYSE:BRK-B), Buffett has accumulated a massive position in the oil and gas exploration company. Buffett’s stake climbed from 10% in March to 15% in May and topped 20% this summer. Currently, Buffett has a nearly 29% stake, or 272.2 million shares, including warrants. According to regulatory filings, Buffett has the green light to buy up to 50% of Occidental Petroleum, although he is not expected to take a controlling stake in the firm at this time.
As for growth, the company reported a 46% revenue increase in 2021 and adjusted earnings of $2.55 per share compared with an adjusted loss of $4.01 in 2020. This year, analysts are forecasting 45% revenue growth and a 4.4% increase in earnings per share.
Finally, OXY stock is reasonably valued with a trailing price-to-earnings ratio of 6.5 and a forward P/E of 9.6.
Exxon Mobil (XOM)
The largest energy stock out there simply cannot be ignored. Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM) boasts a market capitalization of nearly $400 billion, making it notably bigger than the next largest publicly traded energy company, Chevron (NYSE:CVX), which has a market cap of $312 billion.
Aside from being a dominant holding the Energy Select Sector SPDR ETF (NYSEARCA:XLE) — making up 24% of the fund — the stock pays out a handsome 3.6% dividend yield. Despite being up 56% for the year, XOM stock trades at just 7.5 times this year’s earnings expectations and just 8.8 times 2023 estimates.
Revenue increased 55% in 2021. Adjusted earnings of $5.39 per share were a marked improvement over 2020’s 33-cent per-share loss and represented full-year earnings of $23 billion. This year, Exxon has been reporting record quarterly profits thanks to improved margins.
For the full year, analysts are anticipating a 66% jump in revenue and for earnings to hit a whopping $12.70 per share. While this explosive growth is not expected to continue in subsequent years, with analysts calling for earnings and revenue to fall in 2023 and beyond, it’s possible they are being too conservative with their estimates.
Pioneer Natural Resources (PXD)
Last but not least, we have Pioneer Natural Resources (NYSE:PXD). Shares are up 37% year to date. While impressive compared to the broader market, PXD is lagging the other energy stocks on out list. However, that’s because Pioneer’s management has made a major commitment to returning cash to its shareholders in the form of dividends.
Most recently, the company declared a quarterly dividend of $8.50 a share. Wow! Such a big dividend is not likely to be sustainable long term, but Pioneer’s unique approach to the energy boom is certainly paying off for current investors.
Pioneer Natural Resources saw revenue more than double in 2021, while net income attributable to common stockholders was $8.61 per diluted share, up from a loss of $1.21 per share in 2020. This year, estimates call for strong growth with revenue expected to rise 111% and earnings per share to increase to $33.39 before a mild retreat in both earnings and revenue in 2023 and beyond.
PXD stock trades at just 7.2 times this year’s earnings estimates and 8.3 times 2023 estimates. Needless to say, Pioneer has monstrous cash flow at the moment. As long as elevated energy prices are here, management will continue to pass along that income to shareholders in the form of a huge dividend.
On the date of publication, Bret Kenwell did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.