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The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights:BP, Tesoro, Apache, Anadarko Petroleum and FMC Technologies

CHICAGO, Feb. 12, 2014  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 BP plc (NYSE:BP-Free Report), Tesoro Corp. (NYSE:TSO-Free Report), Apache Corp. (NYSE:APA-Free Report), Anadarko Petroleum Corp. (NYSE:APC-Free Report) and FMC Technologies Inc. (NYSE:FTI-Free Report).

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Here are highlights from Tuesday's Analyst Blog:

Oil & Gas Stock Roundup

Crude prices traded up near $100 during the past week on expectations of an improving demand outlook, while natural gas moved lower amid a bearish supply report and forecasts of a break in colder temperatures.

Among the newsmakers – again dominated by earnings announcements – BP plc (NYSE:BP-Free Report) and Tesoro Corp. (NYSE:TSO-Free Report) profits were hit by refining weakness, while Apache Corp. (NYSE:APA-Free Report) pumped up its dividend.     

Crude Oil:

Crude prices increased last week on positive demand outlook for heating oil amid below-normal temperatures that have prevailed for most part of the winter. The commodity got some more support from Friday's January jobs data, which revealed a tick-down in the unemployment rate. The drop in initial jobless claims validates an improving U.S. labor market. This has fuelled hopes for robust fuel and energy demand in the world's biggest oil consumer.

Sentiments were further brightened by the bullish Energy Information Administration (EIA) report that showed a lower-than-expected increase in oil and gasoline inventories, while distillate stockpiles declined more-than-anticipated.

As a result of these factors, by close of trade on Friday, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) oil was firmly in the black and settled at around $100.00 per barrel, gaining 2.4% for the week. 

Natural Gas:

Natural gas fell last week, pulled down by a bearish supply data and forecasts of a break in cold weather conditions.

The EIA's weekly inventory release showed that natural gas stockpiles held in underground storage in the lower 48 states fell by 262 billion cubic feet (Bcf) for the week ended Jan 31, lower than the guided range (of 273–277 Bcf drawdown).

Moreover, milder weather forecasts – in bulk of the country over the next few days – are likely to limit natural gas' demand for heating.

Influenced by these factors, natural gas spot prices ended Friday at around $4.80 per million Btu (MMBtu), down 5.2% over the week.

Energy Week That Was:

The week's energy coverage was dominated by the following news:

BP Downstream Biz Mars Q4 Earnings

Europe's second largest oil company and integrated supermajor BP posted weak fourth quarter results on falling production and refinery margins. What's more, the London-based company expects full-year 2014 output level to be lower than 2013 due to the expiry of the Abu Dhabi onshore concession and the effect of divestments. Still battling to recover from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, BP also raised its provision for the disaster-related cost by around $200 million to $42.7 billion

Tesoro Shares Drubbed After Weak Q4

Independent refiner Tesoro reported weak fourth-quarter 2013 earnings due to significantly higher operating expenses and sharp drop in refining margins across all operating regions. In particular, the San Antonio-based company's woes were compounded by a 37.5% year-over-year decline in gross refining margins. Following the disappointing numbers, Tesoro shares dipped nearly 5% on Thursday.  

Apache Ups Dividend by 25%

U.S.energy firm Apache declared quarterly cash dividend of 25 cents per share ($1.00 per share annualized), reflecting a significant sequential hike of 25.0% from the previous payout of 20 cents. The new dividend is likely to be paid on May 22, 2014, to shareholders of record as of Apr 22, 2014. Apache had approved a quarterly dividend hike of 18.0% and 13.0% in 2013 and 2012, respectively.

Anadarko Misses Q4 Earnings & Revs

U.S.independent Anadarko Petroleum Corp. (NYSE:APC-Free Report) reported a steep drop in its fourth quarter earnings and also missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate by a wide margin, primarily due to a decrease in revenues, higher total costs and expenses and an increase in outstanding shares. However, the company's mainstay – its oil and gas business – reported solid results, growing production 9% from the year-ago period.

FMC Tech Earnings Thrive on Improved Segments

Offshore oilfield equipment manufacturer FMC Technologies Inc. (NYSE:FTI-Free Report) reported stellar fourth quarter results. Improvement in all the segments contributed to the outperformance, with focus on the Subsea Technologies segment that reported record quarterly results. Management estimated its 2014 diluted earnings per share in the range of $2.55–$2.75, amid projections of rising revenues and margins improvement in Subsea Technologies and strong performance from Surface Technologies' international markets. 

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