Billionaire T. Boone Pickens’ Energy Moves: Occidental Petroleum Corporation (OXY), Marathon Oil Corporation (MRO), Range Resources Corp. (RRC)

Pickens’ sell-offs…

Whiting Petroleum (NYSE:WLL) was 4.8% of Pickens’ portfolio and he sold off his entire stake in 4Q. Whiting has a 52% long-term debt to equity ratio, relatively low for exploration and production companies, and the company even hired Merrill to seek out possible acquisitions. However, this was back in September 2012 and it appears that M&A chatter is cooling off, one possible reason that Pickens lost interest in the company. Whiting remains of the top three oil producers in theBakkenShale, but is also being overshadowed by Kodiak and Oasis as major takeover candidates (see which bets in the Bakken are best).Pickensalso already has a big investment with a BakkenShale presence: Occidental Petroleum Corporation (NYSE:OXY).

EOG Resources (NYSE:EOG) made up 8.3% of Pickens’ portfolio during the third quarter, but his fund sold off its entire stake during the fourth quarter. EOG has solid assets in two of the fasted growing shale plays in the U.S., the Eagle Ford and Bakken, but EOG has high exposure to the natural gas market, with natural gas accounting for around half of the company’s reserves. The positive is that EOG has set full-year 2013 crude oil production growth target at 28%. Although Pickens dumped his EOG stake, I believe EOG is a compelling growth story, with industry leading 5-year expected EPS growth of 20%. EOG trades below Range Resources Corp. (NYSE:RRC) at 16 times earnings and has a long-term debt to equity of 44%, below Range’s 122%.

Pickens runs one of the top energy-focused hedge funds. Did I mention he’s a billionaire? He’s made some big bets of late on a couple major oil and gas companies, Marathon and Occidental Petroleum Corporation (NYSE:OXY), while also upping his stake in Range Resources Corp. (NYSE:RRC), all solid investments. On the other hand, his sales include the likes of a niche Bakken Shale operator, Whiting, and mid-level, diverse, operator EOG. Although there might be risks related to Whiting, I still think investors can find value in EOG.

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