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US Shale Drillers to Pump Up More Returns in 2020: 4 Gainers

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Markets are betting high on incremental free cashflow from American shale explorers in 2020. This is because the companies have constrained capital expenditure programs as shareholders demand lower spending on production and instead focus more on returns.

Conservative Capital Program

Oil explorers and producers in the U.S. shale plays have been removing rigs since they have been facing constant investor pressure for higher returns. In 2019, the upstream energy players removed roughly 200 rigs from American oil resources, per data provided by oilfield service firm Baker Hughes Company (BKR - Free Report) . Notably, Permian — the most prolific shale resource in the United States which has helped the country become energy independence — witnessed the removal of roughly 82 oil rigs in 2019.

The shale operators have also decided to continue to curb spending on drilling new wells, which has slowed their overall production. Despite a relatively favorable crude pricing scenario, domestic oil explorers and producers have cut down on spending just to generate sufficient free cashflow for shareholders.

Impressive Free Cashflow in the Cards

Free cashflow is derived after subtracting capital spending from net cash from operations. The continued restraint in capital spending has increased the possibility for U.S. shale players to generate incremental free cashflows in 2020.

Analysts are reportedly optimistic about higher investor returns from shale players since shareholders recently approved Parsley Energy Inc’s (PE - Free Report) $1.8-billion acquisition of rival Jagged Peak Energy Inc . It might be the case that shareholders are optimistic that even after spending on mergers and acquisitions, domestic shale companies will have sufficient free cashflows to reward stockholders with dividends and share repurchases.

Shale Players to Gain

Given that shale drillers will probably generate handsome free cashflows in 2020, it would be ideal to keep an eye on the following Permian explorers that are poised to gain. Here, we present one stock carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) and three others with a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Callon Petroleum Co. (CPE - Free Report) is solely focused on the Permian Basin. The #2 Ranked company boasts an impressive footprint (86,000 net acres) throughout the region. The company entered the basin in 2009 with around 8,800 net acres and has been strengthening its hold in the region since then. In 2020, the company is likely to see earnings growth of 47%.

Diamondback Energy, Inc. (FANG - Free Report) is a pure-play Permian player with presence across more than 394,000 net acres in the Permian. With more than 7,000 drilling locations in the basin, this Zacks Rank #3 company is expected to see earnings growth of 36% in 2020.

With the divestment of its Eagle Ford resources, Pioneer Natural Resources Company (PXD - Free Report) has become a pure-play Permian stock. The Zacks Rank #3 company has estimated more than 20,000 drilling sites in the nation’s most prolific basin, which is likely to provide the company with decades of oil production. In 2020, the stock is likely to record earnings growth of 13%.

Concho Resources (CXO - Free Report) , headquartered in Midland, TX, is a leading explorer and producers in the Permian. The company, with a Zacks Rank of 3, is likely to see earnings growth of 45% in 2020.

5 Stocks Set to Double

Each was hand-picked by a Zacks expert as the #1 favorite stock to gain +100% or more in 2020. Each comes from a different sector and has unique qualities and catalysts that could fuel exceptional growth.

Most of the stocks in this report are flying under Wall Street radar, which provides a great opportunity to get in on the ground floor.

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