5 Oil Stocks Poised for Explosive Growth in 2017

By Matthew DiLallo Markets Fool.com

After a couple of rough years, the oil market appears to have found its footing in 2017. Crude prices seemed to have stabilized above $50 per barrel -- thanks to healthy demand, falling supplies, and a helping hand from OPEC -- so most oil producers in the U.S. are putting more drilling rigs back to work, which should reverse the country's production decline.

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That said, some oil producers are growing much faster than their rivals, thanks to prime positions in the oil-rich Permian Basin. Here's a closer look at some of America's fastest-growing oil stocks:

Crude Oil Stock

Enterprise Value

2016 Average Production Rate

2017 Growth Forecast

RSP Permian (NYSE: RSPP)

$6.5 billion

29,200 BOE/D

82% to 95%

Parsley Energy (NYSE: PE)

$9.8 billion

38,257 BOE/D

70% at the midpoint

Diamondback Energy (NASDAQ: FANG)

$7.8 billion

43,000 BOE/D

More than 65%

PDC Energy (NASDAQ: PDCE)

$4.6 billion

60,590 BOE/D

More than 40% at the midpoint

WPX Energy (NYSE: WPX)

$7.5 billion

84,600 BOE/D

30% oil-volume growth

Data sources: Company investor-relations files and press releases. BOE/D = barrels of oil equivalent per day.

Paying up to fuel eye-popping growth

RSP Permian made a huge splash last year, spending $2.4 billion to acquire Silver Hill Energy Partners and Silver Hill E&P, outbidding Diamondback Energy in the process. In doing so, the company entered the Delaware Basin portion of the Permian, giving it dual growth engines to fuel output expansion in 2017 and beyond. As things currently stand, RSP Permian sees its output rising between 82% and 95% this year, due in part to the incremental output from the two Silver Hill acquisitions as well as the fact that its growth is coming off a low base of less than 30,000 BOE/D last year. That said, the company doesn't plan on being a one-year wonder, with RSP Permian expecting output to expand by more than 30% per year in 2018 and 2019 while living within cash flow at $55 oil.

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The buying binge is about to pay off

Acquisitions are also the primary fuel behind Parsley Energy's ambitious 2017 growth plan. That's after the company completed a slew of deals over the past year across the Basin to lock up prime drilling land. Its biggest deal occurred earlier this month when it spent $2.8 billion to acquire 3,000 drilling locations in the Midland Basin. As a result, the company now has 8,000 drilling locations to fuel robust production growth in 2017 and beyond.

Image source: Getty Images.

Second time is the charm

While Diamondback Energy lost out to RSP Permian on the Silver Hill deal, it still came out as a winner in the end. That's because the company would go on to acquire Brigham Resources in a $2.43 billion deal a few months later. It was arguably a better buy because Brigham came at a lower per-acre valuation of $32,000, versus the $58,500 per acre that RSP Permian paid. Further, Diamondback Energy sees its deal fueling 65% output growth this year, while providing a "runway for unprecedented growth for years to come."

Getting in on the action

PDC Energy also rode the Permian Basin acquisition wave last year, spending $1.5 billion to enter the core of the Delaware Basin. That deal provided the company with more than 700 future drilling locations, which will fuel production growth in 2017 and beyond. Further, the company recently spent another $118 million on some bolt-on acreage to expand its position, which is something it likely will continue doing in the future.

Image source: Getty Images.

The transformation is complete

Unlike the others on this list, WPX Energy didn't make a game-changing acquisition last year to set it up for growth in 2017. Instead, the company did that in 2015, when it spent $2.35 billion on a transformative transaction to enter the Permian. Meanwhile, it spent the bulk of the past year jettisoning non-core assets in other basins and bolstering its core position in the Permian, including a $775 million acquisition earlier this year. As a result, WPX Energy is ready to ramp up drilling in 2017, with plans to grow its oil output 30% this year, which sets it up for 30% to 40% annual production growth through 2020.

Investor takeaway

All five of these oil stocks have one thing in common: They each spent billions to buy a prime position in the oil-rich Permian Basin because wells are very lucrative to drill when oil is above $50. With that crude price in the forecast this year, those deals are poised to pay off, as each company expects to deliver oil production growth of 30% or more even if oil doesn't recover much further. Investors looking for some oil-fueled growth should take a look at adding one of these rapidly growing oil stocks to their portfolios.

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Matt DiLallo has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.