The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Anadarko Petroleum, Exxon Mobil, Chevron, BP and Barrett Business Services

CHICAGO, June 13, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Zacks.com 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 the Anadarko Petroleum Corp. (NYSE: APC-Free Report), Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM-Free Report), Chevron Corporation (NYSE: CVX-Free Report), BP plc (NYSE: BP-Free Report) andBarrett Business Services Inc. (Nasdaq: BBSI-Free Report).

Today, Zacks is promoting its ''Buy'' stock recommendations. Get #1Stock of the Day pick for free.

Here are highlights from Thursday's Analyst Blog:

Anadarko Up on Exxon Buyout Hopes

As per the market sources, independent oil and natural gas exploration and production (E&P) company Anadarko Petroleum Corp. (NYSE: APC-Free Report) may be acquired by the energy giant Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM-Free Report). After the market rumor, the trading volume of Anadarko Petroleum jumped 211.6% to 11,688,364 on Jun 11, 2014 from its last 10 days average volume.

Shares of Anadarko Petroleum hit its 52-week high of $109.00 on Jun 11, 2014 following the news. Finally, the share price closed at $108.32, up roughly 4.2% from the previous day's closing.

Is Anadarko a Buyout Candidate?

There are several factors which could make Anadarko Petroleum a very attractive take-over target for energy biggies like Exxon Mobil, Chevron Corporation (NYSE: CVX-Free Report), BP plc (NYSE: BP-Free Report) and several others.

Anadarko Petroleum is engaged in exploration, development, production, gathering, processing and marketing of natural gas, crude oil, condensate and natural gas liquids (NGL). The company's operations are strategically located in several mineral-rich areas, including the Rocky Mountain region, the Appalachian Basin and the deepwater Gulf of Mexico (GoM).

In addition, Anadarko Petroleum is also active in numerous international locations like Brazil, Ghana, Indonesia, Liberia, Mozambique and Sierra Leone. Anadarko Petroleum maintains a disciplined capital spending program to expand its domestic as well as overseas operations.

In first-quarter 2014, the company has increased estimated recoverable resource range at its operations in Offshore Area 1, Mozambique. Currently, the company plans to explore the immense resource prospects of the Eagleford, Wattenberg and WolfCamp basins.

The scheduled completion of the growth ventures along with obtaining positive drilling outcomes acts as value driver for reserve additions. At the end of 2013, Anadarko Petroleum had total proved reserves of 2,792 million barrels of oil equivalent (MMBOE). It consists 55% of natural gas, 30% of oil & condensates and 15% of NGL.

To Sum Up

Per a U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) report published in Jun 2014, the average consumption for global petroleum and other liquids will likely increase 1.4% year over to around 91.8 million barrels per day. Primarily, higher demand from China is expected to boost the future consumption level.

On the natural gas front, average total natural gas consumption is expected to be 72.5 billion cubic feet per day in 2014. Higher demand from the industrial sector on the back of an improvement in manufacturing sector may lead to a 1.7% year-over-year rise in 2014 natural gas consumption.

Anadarko Petroleum's reserves are well-positioned to meet increasing customer demand. So, the natural gas weighted assets of Anadarko Petroleum will allow the buyer to reap benefits of a natural gas boom worldwide.

Anadarko Petroleum has resolved the Tronox case. This has removed the legal burden from the company, thus making it more lucrative for the acquirers.

We believe that Anadarko Petroleum's well-diversified portfolio of properties backed by steady exploration activities, asset realignment program through systematic divestitures, strong proved reserve base, a stable cash position and settlement of the Tronox case make it a favorable candidate for acquisition.

Anadarko Petroleum currently has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

Barrett Business Services Down to Strong Sell

Zacks Investment Research downgraded Barrett Business Services Inc. (Nasdaq: BBSI-Free Report) to a Zacks Rank #5 (Strong Sell) on Jun 12, 2014. Also, the company witnessed downward estimate revisions over the past 60 days.

Why the Downgrade?

Following a negative earnings surprise of 2.0% in the last quarter and a tepid current guidance, Barrett Business Services witnessed downward estimate revisions for the second quarter and fiscal 2014 over the past 60 days. Consequently, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for the second quarter declined from $1.01 to 93 cents per share while that for fiscal 2014 declined from $3.17 to $2.96 per share over the same timeframe.

Shares of Barrett Business Services slumped 3.8% on Jun 11, which represented a one-year negative return of 22.2% and a negative year-to-date return of 49.5%.

Barrett Business Services reported dismal first-quarter 2014 results on Apr 29 wherein its loss per share came in wider than both the Zacks Consensus Estimate as well as the year-ago quarter, primarily due to higher effective payroll taxes and a higher share count. Although the company reported a year-over-year increase in revenues, this lagged the Zacks Consensus Estimate.

However, Barrett Business Services has a growing product pipeline that could help it build a healthy client base in the future.

Nonetheless, it's likely that the company's investments in operational infrastructure improvements will continue to impact margins in the near term.

Today, Zacks is promoting its ''Buy'' stock recommendations. Get #1Stock of the Day pick for free.

About Zacks Equity Research

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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 http://www.zacks.com/performance for information about the performance numbers displayed in this press release.

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