The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Newfield Exploration, McDermott International, Rowan, Transocean and Antero Resources

For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL - December 29, 2016 - announces the list of stocks featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets. Stocks recently featured in the blog include Newfield Exploration Co. (NYSE: NFX - Free Report ), McDermott International Inc. (NYSE: MDR - Free Report ), Rowan Companies plc (NYSE: RDC - Free Report ), Transocean Ltd. (NYSE: RIG - Free Report ) and Antero Resources Corp. (NYSE: AR - Free Report ).

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Here are highlights from Wednesday's Analyst Blog:

5 Oil Stocks with Massive Earnings Surprises in 2016

It has been a wild ride for the energy market in 2016, setting pulses racing of even the steadiest investors. Pressured by numerous factors, the commodity set off alarm bells plenty of times throughout the course of the year.

By February, prices plunged all the way to a low of $26, thanks to the boom in shale oil production and rising output from OPEC. The dramatic slide prompted several analysts to make bold calls on a potential bottom. While some suggested prices might drop as low as $20 a barrel, gloomier estimates called for a sensational $10-per-barrel floor.

But thankfully, none of these bone-chilling forecasts were correct.

The OPEC Intervention

In a bold but not unexpected move, the OPEC cartel agreed on November 30 to reduce production starting next month. Seen as a desperate bid to put a floor on falling oil prices , the Saudi Arabia-led group promised to take 1.2 million barrels a day out of the market.

OPEC's decision to cut oil production was not totally surprising though the magnitude of reduction were deeper than many analysts had expected. The move aims to trim output to 32.5 million barrels per day -- at the low end of a preliminary agreement struck in September.

After a few days, Russia - biggest supplier outside the bloc - and 10 other non-member countries also joined forces with the group and pledged to pump less. As per the first pact between the rivals in 15 years, the non-OPEC producers agreed to pitch in with an additional 558,000 barrels a day of cuts next year.

Falling Capital Expenditure Also Comes to the Rescue

Throughout the downturn, producers worked tirelessly to cut costs down to a bare minimum and look for innovative ways to churn out more oil from rock. And they managed to do just that by improving drilling techniques and extracting favorable terms from the beleaguered service producers.

With these efforts, many upstream companies have repositioned themselves to thrive even at lower prices. Moreover, slashing investments (in existing and new wells) have led to numerous project cancellations and production losses - another step in reducing the glut of crude.

Concerns Remain Despite Optimism

Currently at $54, the price of oil has doubled from the multi-year lows and it's a whole new ballgame for investors who are now the most optimistic on the commodity than at any time in the past 2½ years. They believe that the OPEC consensus will help whittle down huge global stockpiles and lead to higher prices in the near-term.

But with U.S. drillers ramping up their output quickly in response to the OPEC-driven rally and question marks over the cartel's ability to enforce production cuts, the rebalancing of global oil market might get delayed and prices could again come under pressure.

Earnings Power

In the midst of such uncertainty, earnings performance has emerged as a decisive factor behind a stock's performance. Speculations regarding earnings beat or miss have become a fundamental concern for investors that can either cheer or upset to the point of a hasty sell-off. Considered Wall Street's dirty little secret, the formidable importance of earnings surprises can just not be ignored, whether you like it or not.

But from a broader perspective, it is the analysts' consensus about the inherent strength of companies, coupled with their earnings performance, which should be closely followed for gaining better understanding about how to boost one's portfolio.

Specifically, a history of positive earnings surprise generally works as a catalyst in sending a stock higher. It indicates the company's ability to surpass the estimates. So, investors take it in their consideration while betting on the stock with the expectation that the company will do the same trick to outpace the estimates in the upcoming release.

5 Stocks that Posted Huge Surprises

With the help of the Zacks Stock Screener , we have zeroed-in on five stocks that flaunt a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) or 2 (Buy), and have recorded EPS (earnings per share) surprise of over 350% in the last four quarters. You can see the complete list of today's Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here .

Newfield Exploration Co. (NYSE: NFX - Free Report ) : Newfield Exploration, based in Woodlands, TX, is an independent energy company engaged in the exploration and production of crude oil and natural gas onshore in the U.S.

Zacks Rank: #1

Average EPS Surprise in the Last 4 Quarters: 754.83%

McDermott International Inc. (NYSE: MDR - Free Report ) : Incorporated in 1959, Houston, TX-based McDermott International is an engineering and construction company, solely focused on the offshore oil and gas business.

Zacks Rank: #1

Average EPS Surprise in the Last 4 Quarters: 474.04%

Rowan Companies plc (NYSE: RDC - Free Report ) : Houston, TX-based Rowan Companies provides international and domestic contract drilling. It focuses mainly on high-specification, premium jack-up rigs and ultra-deepwater drill ships.

Zacks Rank: #2

Average EPS Surprise in the Last 4 Quarters: 740.02%

Transocean Ltd. (NYSE: RIG - Free Report ) : Switzerland-based Transocean, Inc., with an apt NYSE ticker of RIG, is the world's largest offshore drilling contractor and leading provider of drilling management services.

Zacks Rank: #2

Average EPS Surprise in the Last 4 Quarters: 543.52%

Antero Resources Corp. (NYSE: AR - Free Report ) : Founded in 2002, Denver, CO-based Antero Resources is an independent oil and natural gas company with focus on liquids-rich natural gas in the Appalachian Basin in West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Zacks Rank: #2

Average EPS Surprise in the Last 4 Quarters: 370.83%

Bottom Line

Historical earnings surprise can be viewed as a key metric for share price outperformance and can greatly increase your odds of grabbing big winners.

Zacks' Top 10 Stocks for 2017

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Who wouldn't? As of early December, the 2016 Top 10 produced 5 double-digit winners including oil and natural gas giant Pioneer Natural Resources which racked up a stellar +50% gain. The new list is painstakingly hand-picked from 4,400 companies covered by the Zacks Rank. Be among the very first to see it>>

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About Zacks Equity Research

Zacks Equity Research provides the best of quantitative and qualitative analysis to help investors know what stocks to buy and which to sell for the long-term.

Continuous coverage is provided for a universe of 1,150 publicly traded stocks. Our analysts are organized by industry which gives them keen insights to developments that affect company profits and stock performance. Recommendations and target prices are six-month time horizons.

Strong Stocks that Should Be in the News

Many are little publicized and fly under the Wall Street radar. They're virtually unknown to the general public. Yet today's 220 Zacks Rank #1 "Strong Buys" were generated by the stock-picking system that has nearly tripled the market from 1988 through 2015. Its average gain has been a stellar +26% per year. See these high-potential stocks free >>.

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Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Inherent in any investment is the potential for loss.

This material is being provided for informational purposes only and nothing herein constitutes investment, legal, accounting or tax advice, or a recommendation to buy, sell or hold a security. No recommendation or advice is being given as to whether any investment is suitable for a particular investor. It should not be assumed that any investments in securities, companies, sectors or markets identified and described were or will be profitable. All information is current as of the date of herein and is subject to change without notice. Any views or opinions expressed may not reflect those of the firm as a whole. Zacks Investment Research does not engage in investment banking, market making or asset management activities of any securities. These returns are from hypothetical portfolios consisting of stocks with Zacks Rank = 1 that were rebalanced monthly with zero transaction costs. These are not the returns of actual portfolios of stocks. The S&P 500 is an unmanaged index. Visit for information about the performance numbers displayed in this press release.

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NEWFIELD EXPL (NFX): Free Stock Analysis Report

MCDERMOTT INTL (MDR): Free Stock Analysis Report

ROWAN COS PLC (RDC): Free Stock Analysis Report

TRANSOCEAN LTD (RIG): Free Stock Analysis Report

ANTERO RESOURCE (AR): Free Stock Analysis Report

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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