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Top Oil Analyst Likes These 2 Picks, Which Should You Buy?

The oil stocks have outperformed the broader market in 2022, driven by surging oil prices amid substantial fuel demand and supply chain disruptions exacerbated by geopolitical instability. As the crude oil prices are expected to soar further, Raymond James oil and energy analyst John Freeman recommends investing in Marathon Oil (MRO) and Pioneer Natural Resources (PXD). But which of the stocks is a better buy now? Read on.

Marathon Oil Corporation (MRO) explores, produces, and markets crude oil, natural gas, and natural gas liquids. The company also owns the Sugarloaf gathering system, a 42-mile natural gas pipeline, and 32 central gathering and treating facilities.

On the other hand, Pioneer Natural Resources Company (PXD) operates as an independent oil and gas exploration and production company in the U.S. The company owns proved developed reserves of 130 million barrels of oil, 92 million barrels of NGLs, and 462 billion cubic feet of gas.

Amid the growing fuel demand and tight global supplies, oil prices have soared exponentially over the past few months. The ongoing geopolitical crisis is mainly contributing to crude oil price volatility.

Moreover, at the end of May, the European Union agreed to ban around 90% of Russian oil imports by the end of 2022, and it might continue to rattle crude oil markets and push prices higher.

President Joe Biden’s administration recently led the largest release of oil from the nation’s oil reserves in history. Despite such a significant oil release, oil prices continue to surge to record levels.

"Supplies will remain tight and continue supporting high oil prices. The norm for ICE Brent is still around the $120/bbl mark," said PVM analyst Stephen Brennock. The bullish sentiment surrounding the industry is evident from iPath Pure Beta Crude Oil ETN’s (OIL) 52.1% gains year-to-date. Thus, Raymond James oil and energy analyst John Freeman, who is highly regarded as an oil expert, looks bullish on MRO and PXD.

MRO has gained 59.4% in price over the past six months, while PXD has surged 33.4% over this period. Also, MRO’s shares have increased 43.2% year-to-date, in contrast to PXD’s 24% increase during the same period. Moreover, in terms of the past year’s performance, MRO is the clear winner with 87.4% gains versus PXD’s gains of 49.6%.

Which stock is a better buy now? Let’s find out.

Recent Developments

On April 28, 2022, MRO’s Board of Directors declared a dividend of 8 cents per share on MRO common stock, which was paid on June 10, 2022. This represents an increase of approximately 15% from the company’s last quarterly dividend payment of 7 cents per share.

Additionally, as of May 4, the company’s Board of Directors approved a rise in total share repurchase to $2.5 billion. These developments reflect the company’s strong financial position.

On June 14, PXD paid a quarterly base-plus-variable cash dividend of $7.38 per share. This equates to an annualized yield of 13%. Moreover, the company repurchased $250 million of stock during the first quarter.

The company’s peer-lending return of capital strategy combines a strong base dividend, a substantial variable dividend, and share repurchases, creating significant long-term value for its shareholders.

Recent Financial Results

MRO’s revenues and other income increased 63.7% year-over-year to $1.75 billion for the fiscal 2022 first quarter ended March 31, 2022. The company’s income from operations grew 588% year-over-year to $805 million, while its adjusted net income came in at $749 million, representing a 351.2% year-over-year increase.

Also, its adjusted income per share came in at $1.02, up 385.7% year-over-year.

PXD’s revenue and other income increased 152.5% year-over-year to $6.17 billion for the fiscal 2022 first quarter ended March 31, 2022. Its EBITDAX grew 277.8% year-over-year to $3.25 billion.

Its net income attributable to common stockholders increased 2,970% from the year-ago value to $2.01 billion. Also, its net income per share attributable to common stockholders came in at $7.85, up 2,478.8% year-over-year.

Past and Expected Financial Performance

MRO’s revenue and EPS grew at CAGRs of 2.6% and 37.1%, respectively, over the past three years. Analysts expect MRO’s revenue and EPS for the next quarter (ending September 2022) to rise 59.4% and 238.5%, respectively.

Its revenue and EPS are expected to increase 40.7% and 208.9%, respectively, in the current year (ending December 2022). Moreover, its EPS is expected to grow at 10.7% per annum over the next five years.

On the other hand, PXD’s revenue and EPS grew at CAGRs of 31.2% and 34.4%, respectively, over the past three years. Analysts expect PXD’s revenue and EPS for the next quarter (ending September 2022) to grow 59% and 109.9%, respectively.

The company’s revenue and EPS are expected to increase 49.8% and 144.1%, respectively, in the current year (ending December 2022). Also, PXD’s EPS is expected to grow at 17.4% per annum over the next five years.


PXD’s trailing-12-month revenue is 3.37 times what MRO generates. However, MRO is relatively more profitable, with gross profit margin and EBITDA margin of 78.65% and 61.79% compared to PXD’s 53.94% and 43.85%, respectively.

Furthermore, MRO’s net income margin and levered FCF margin of 34.70% and 30.60% are higher than PXD’s 20.03% and 11.47%, respectively.


In terms of forward non-GAAP P/E, PXD is currently trading at 6.81x, 39.3% higher than MRO’s 4.89x. Moreover, PXD’s forward EV/EBITDA of 4.14x is 17.5% higher than MRO’s 3.51x.

So, MRO is the more affordable stock.

POWR Ratings

MRO has an overall B rating, which equates to a Buy in our proprietary POWR Ratings system. In contrast, PXD has an overall rating of C, which translates to a Neutral. The POWR Ratings are calculated by considering 118 distinct factors, with each factor weighted to an optimal degree.

MRO has a grade of A for Quality. This is justified by MRO’s 34.7% trailing-12-month net income margin, 613.8% higher than the industry average of 4.86%. On the other hand, PXD has a Quality grade of C.

Of the 101 stocks in the B-rated Energy - Oil & Gas industry, MRO is ranked #25, while PXD is ranked #53.

Beyond what I’ve stated above, we have also rated the stocks for Stability, Sentiment, Growth, Value, and Momentum. Click here to view all the MRO ratings. Also, get all the PXD ratings here.

The Winner

The high fuel demand and rising prices bode well for MRO and PXD. However, given the discounted valuation, higher profitability, and bright growth prospects, MRO could be a better buy now.

Our research shows that odds of success increase when one invests in stocks with an Overall Rating of Strong Buy or Buy. View all the top-rated Energy - Oil & Gas stocks here.

MRO shares were trading at $24.15 per share on Monday afternoon, down $1.51 (-5.88%). Year-to-date, MRO has gained 47.99%, versus a -22.73% rise in the benchmark S&P 500 index during the same period.

About the Author: Mangeet Kaur Bouns

Mangeet’s keen interest in the stock market led her to become an investment researcher and financial journalist. Using her fundamental approach to analyzing stocks, Mangeet’s looks to help retail investors understand the underlying factors before making investment decisions.


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