The global oil industry produces about 30 billion barrels per year. Current prices put its size at about $2 trillion in revenue. That’s double the size of the top 10 metals markets combined.
HF Sinclair (NYSE: DINO), Enbridge (NYSE: ENB), and Devon Energy (NYSE: DVN) stand out to a few Fool.com contributors as some of the top stocks for those seeking to capitalize on the oil industry’s riches. Let’s find out a bit more about these three stocks.
An overlooked refiner that generates gobs of cash
Tyler Crowe (HF Sinclair): One of the more underappreciated changes in the oil and gas industry is the structural changes to North American refiners. Shale drilling and Canadian crude have provided them with cheaper, advantaged feedstocks compared with the days when the U.S. was importing close to 10 million barrels per day. Also, there hasn’t been a lot of investment in new refineries in several years, so those that are operational have been running at high utilization rates. There are a lot of fixed costs to operate a refinery, but not that much in variable costs. So if a refiner can run at a high rate, it can be immensely profitable.
HF Sinclair is one of the U.S. midsize independent refiners. For all it lacks in size, it makes up for it with efficient operations and good capital allocation. For more than 30 years, the company has averaged a return on capital of 15.3%.
2022 and 2023 were inordinately good years for HF Sinclair. The company was able to run its facilities at extremely high utilization rates and generated loads of cash as a result. Much of that went to paying down debt and buying back about 10% of total shares outstanding in the past year.
This may be the salad days for HF Sinclair, but even if earnings were to decline a bit, this stock looks incredibly cheap. Shares currently trade for 3.8 times free cash flow and 4.9 times earnings. Refining doesn’t get the investor attention it deserves, and those looking to dig will find gems like HF Sinclair trading for dirt-cheap valuations.
A proven wealth creator
Matt DiLallo (Enbridge): Canadian oil pipeline and natural gas infrastructure giant Enbridge is a proven wealth creator. Since 2000, the company has delivered a 12.4% average annualized total return. That has crushed the S&P 500‘s nearly 7% average annualized total return during that period. Enbridge has grown a $10,000 investment made in 2000 into more than $134,000. That compares with $68,000 for a similar investment in an S&P 500 index fund.
One of the main factors fueling Enbridge’s market-crushing total returns is its dividend. The company has delivered superior dividend growth. This year will mark its 29th straight year of increasing its payout.
Enbridge should continue enriching investors in the future. It currently pays a monster 7.4% dividend, providing investors an excellent base return. The company supports that payout with very stable cash flow, as 98% comes from regulated rate structures or long-term contracts that insulate its earnings from the volatility of oil and gas prices. Enbridge pays 60% to 70% of its steady cash flow in dividends, retaining the rest to help fund its continued expansion.
The company currently has a massive backlog of growth projects under construction. Those projects give it lots of visibility into future earnings growth. Enbridge estimates it can grow its earnings and cash flow by around a 5% compound annual rate over the medium term. That should fuel dividend growth at around a similar pace. Add its growing earnings to its high-yielding dividend, and Enbridge could have the power to produce an average annual total return in the double digits. That makes it a great way to grow your wealth from the oil patch.
A counter-cyclical investment
Jason Hall (Devon Energy): Oil prices have come down a lot in the past 18 months, falling from $120 per barrel in the summer of 2022 to the mid-$70s recently. Shares of Devon Energy have fallen along with crude; Brent futures are down about 42% from the 2022 peak, while Devon shares are down 44%.
Yes, lower oil prices have made Devon less profitable. Also yes, it’s a dangerous bet that oil prices are just going to go higher. The nice thing about Devon at these oil prices, and the stock at these levels, is investors don’t have to count on higher prices to still do pretty well. The company has generated almost $2.9 billion in free cash flow over the past year, proving its ability to make money with lower crude prices.
The board and management have also continued to stick to their plans to return excess cash back to shareholders, too, via a modest base dividend, share buybacks, and a variable dividend that moves up and down with cash flows. With a base dividend yield of around 2%, a history of generating the cash to juice the total payout substantially, and a price that works out to less than 10 times trailing free cash flow, I think Devon looks compelling now.
You’ll want to keep it on a shorter leash than the stocks my colleagues offer up, but it’s a money-maker at recent oil prices, and potentially a multibagger stock if oil prices move higher.
Should you invest $1,000 in Devon Energy right now?
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Jason Hall has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Matthew DiLallo has positions in Enbridge. Tyler Crowe has positions in HF Sinclair. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Enbridge. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
3 Stocks in This $2 Trillion Industry Can Help Make You Rich was originally published by The Motley Fool
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