Apache Corporation (APA), Suncor Energy Inc. (USA) (SU), Canadian Natural Resource Ltd (USA) (CNQ): These Stocks Could Gush, And Some Already Have

Exchange-traded funds offer a convenient way to invest in sectors or niches that interest you. If you’d like to add some global energy stocks to your portfolio, the iShares MSCI Global Energy Producers ETF could save you a lot of trouble. Instead of trying to figure out which companies will perform best, you can use this ETF to invest in lots of them simultaneously.

The basics
ETFs often sport lower expense ratios than their mutual fund cousins. The iShares ETF’s expense ratio — its annual fee — is a relatively low 0.39%. The fund is very small, though, so if you’re thinking of buying, beware of possibly large spreads between its bid and ask prices. Consider using a limit order if you want to buy in.

This ETF is too new to have a sufficient track record to assess. As with most investments, of course, we can’t expect outstanding performances in every quarter or year. Investors with conviction need to wait for their holdings to deliver.

Why energy?
Energy is a defensive sector, as demand for it doesn’t drop by a lot when economic times get tough. Interest in alternative energies is definitely growing, but we’re still quite dependent on good old oil and gas. Thus, oil and gas exploration and production companies are worth considering — and some of them have been getting involved in alternative energies, too.

Some energy companies had strong performances over the past year. Phillips 66 (NYSE:PSX) has been profiting by processing cheap U.S. oil and then selling it at higher prices in Latin America and Europe — thereby helping keep fuel prices in the U.S. high. Phillips management recently signaled confidence via a dividend hike of about 25% — its yield is 1.9% now. The stock took a bit of a hit recently due to proposed sulfur-reduction regulations from the EPA that would result in greater expense for the company, in order to comply. Meanwhile, Phillips is spinning off a master limited partnership.

Apache Corporation (NYSE:APA)

Other companies didn’t do as well last year, but could see their fortunes change in the coming years. Apache Corporation (NYSE:APA), yielding 1.1%, shed 19% over the past year, in part due to lower-than-hoped-for production levels. But that’s due to the company investing capital in projects that won’t immediately bump production much. Only 11% of Apache Corporation (NYSE:APA)’s revenue last year came from natural gas, and unlike some peers, it’s cash-flow positive as well. It hiked its next dividend by a big 18%, and its plans to drill more wells are also promising. On various counts, the stock seems inexpensive. Meanwhile, a board member recently bought some $740,000 worth of shares.