Investors searching for the best stocks to buy now often look toward the shale oil boom and, in particular, at key finds such as the Bakken formation in North Dakota or the Permian Basin in west Texas.
But a fresh development in the Permian Basin has made the U.S. oil industry take notice - and that's not easy given the dramatic shale oil finds across the country.
Why this Country is a Huge Profit Opportunity for Natural Gas Companies
Here at Money Morning, Dr. Kent Moors and others have spoken often about how the coming liquefied natural gas (LNG) export boom will be a huge profit windfall for natural gas companies. LNG exports should begin in earnest from this country in 2015.
But there is a natural gas export boom that is occurring right under many investors' noses.
Vast amounts of U.S. natural gas are currently being shipped via pipelines to many experts' favorite emerging country.
In fact, Money Morning Global Investing Specialist Martin Hutchinson called investing there a "100-year opportunity."
The country in question? Our neighbor to the south: Mexico.
How your Grandchildren can Reap Profits with These Nuclear Stocks
Three Mile Island. Chernobyl. Sellafield. Fukushima.
These are just the most famous names from an alarmingly long list of civilian nuclear incidents. Each of these accidents resulted sparked intense public debate on the future of civilian nuclear power.
Is it really safe? What do we do with the waste? It'll be toxic for tens of thousands of years? How bad will the next accident be? What kind of trade-off are we making? These are just some of the questions mooted in the wake of these and other nuclear accidents.
Energy Stocks to Buy Now: Two of the Best "Pick and Shovel" Plays
If you could pick stocks to buy among the companies tied to the California Gold Rush, miners would not have been your best bets.
The miners were not guaranteed to get rich. While some of them did in spectacular fashion, many went completely broke.
One subset of those who flocked to the region actually did very well for themselves. They were the ones who ventured out not to look for gold but to sell supplies. It may not have been as exciting as digging for gold, but the profits were sure and steady.
Merchants made a fine living and built fortunes selling axes, pans and other items to the masses of gold hunters flocking to the region.
Business was so good that one firm in New York took to the region to sell tents, bedding and denim pants to the miners.
Indeed, young Levi Strauss experienced quite a run of success in this endeavor...
The same profit distribution has been true over the years in the oil and gas industry to some degree. Much like the Gold Rush, there are risks associated with the search for oil and gas exploration and production.
Although they cannot always escape the economic cycle of the industry, the company that sell supplies are not exposed to as much high-cost and risk as the exploration companies are. That's why many of these suppliers have managed to stay in the black, while the exploration and production companies have struggled for profits.
And it's why some of the best energy stocks to buy now are the supporting players in the continued exploration process.
This Dangerous "New" Energy Crisis is Crippling the Middle East
Don't look now, but there are some problems developing in the global energy network.
It's hardly reassuring that the epicenter of all this is the Middle East.
The primary problem is hardly new. Actually, calling it an "old" problem is more accurate because the culprit is a collapsing network of delivery and storage that has been deteriorating for decades.
Unfortunately, this is hitting areas already beset by broad, accelerating economic shortfalls the hardest. That they also happen to be areas of significant unrest hardly improves the situation.
The latest is in Pakistan. There a combination of lower-than-expected water availability and a government powerless to provide the diesel fuel essential for the planting season means a population already on the brink is staring at food shortages.
The picture is very grim.
What Germany's Energy Problems Can Teach Us About Our Own
Marina and I will soon board a plane for another trip to Europe.
We are off to Frankfurt, where I have meetings on European natural gas import costs; meanwhile, my better half gets to spoil our grandchildren, who live just outside the city.
My responsibility is to address the energy balance problems emerging for the continent. The focus may be on Germany and the rest of Western Europe, but these problems are emerging elsewhere around the world.
With Berlin opting to phase out nuclear power, the continent's largest economy now has a daunting task to assemble an energy mix that meets expected demand.
This started as a political tradeoff, but it is likely to become the major concern in the broader national strategy to stave off recession. A similar tradeoff is developing in the United States.
A much-ballyhooed German venture into solar and wind has hit a brick wall. There is now a played-down move to import additional nuclear-generated power from neighbors, but now the country is doing the unthinkable to meet its energy demands.
This environmentally conscious country, with one of the strongest green political movements in Europe, is now importing more coal than at any point in the past decade.
The options are limited, along with the time to decide on how to implement all of it. That is likely to result in a political tradeoff distasteful to just about every political party and interest group in Germany.
However, the problems do not end there.
Conference Delivers Good News for Investing in Energy Stocks
The U.S. role in the energy industry was a focal point last week at a major conference of senior global energy decision-makers in Houston - and what came out of it was good news for those investing in energy stocks.
The 32nd annual IHS CERAWeek featured some 300 speakers, including senior industry executives and government officials, who provided fresh insight into energy's future.
Energy analyst, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and vice chairman at energy research firm IHS CERA Daniel Yergin, who presided over the conference, told Politico, "We've got to be aware of rosy scenarios, and I think experienced people ... are cautious about rosy scenarios. But I would say ... it's a mood of tempered optimism and confidence that technology will help solve our problem - continue to help us meet these big energy needs and these big environmental needs that we have."
IHS CERAWeek included discussions of new technologies, shifts in worldwide demand, regulatory concerns, and supply and demand.
Optimistic conference participants agreed the energy industry is being transformed and said the industry offers plenty of good opportunities for investing in energy stocks.
Two Energy Stocks to Buy Now Before Prices Rebound
If you're looking for energy stocks to buy, now's a good time to snag some deals.
Energy stocks have seriously lagged the overall stock market for some time now as the weak economy has reduced demand.
The Energy Information Agency released a report Feb. 27 stating that oil demand in 2012 was the lowest since 1996, and gasoline demand was the lowest since 2001.
Although it can be difficult to measure accurately, a slower-than-historical growth rate in China seems to have slowed demand from the world's largest importing nation as well.
As a result, the oil services exchange-traded fund (NYSE: OIH) is up just over 0.2% in the past year, compared to the overall market's 15% return. The Vanguard Energy ETF (NYSE: VDE) has a wider scope of energy companies, but also lags the market with a 12-month return of just 4.16%.
In spite of the current weakness in demand, the one thing we know for certain is that the global economy cannot pick up without an increase in demand for oil and gas. Although these stocks are out of favor right now, the odds are high that over the next several years they will become growth darlings once again as energy demand inevitably rises.
Patient contrarian investors can take advantage of this potential profit landfall by buying into these energy stocks now, while they are unloved and very cheap based on historical levels and future prospects.
Watch What Carl Icahn Does to These Energy Stocks
Energy stocks have been largely left behind in the recent stock market rally - except for those with interest from activist investors like Carl Icahn.
You see, concerns about global demand as well as political pressure to focus on alternative energy have weighed on energy stocks. So have the low price and oversupply conditions in the natural gas markets.
Many of these energy stocks trade at what seem to be very low prices compared with the assets owned by the corporations and their future prospects.
This has attracted the attention of many activist investors looking to force the share price to unlock the real value of the underlying corporation.
One of the best-known activist investors, Carl Icahn, has accumulated several positions in leading energy companies in the past year because of low prices and under-valuations.
Take, for example, what Icahn's done with CVR Energy Inc. (NYSE: CVI).
Icahn owns 83% of CVR, a refiner that has seen its stock price soar recently as refining margins have improved. The company also has a fertilizer business that is a major beneficiary of lower natural gas prices.
The stock has better than doubled in the past year so it would be foolish for investors to chase the shares now.
But CVR does serve as an example of the sizable returns Icahn is looking to achieve in his foray into additional energy investments, like the following two stocks he's been accumulating.
Why Oil Refiners Are Among the Best Energy Stocks to Buy Now
Shale oil production continues its upward path, increasing overall U.S. oil production and making specific groups of energy stocks among the best to buy right now.
In fact, the U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA) reported last month that domestic oil production surpassed the 7 million barrel a day level, the highest point in nearly 20 years. Production this year, the EIA says, will rise by another 14%.
This is obviously good news for the companies producing that oil, and it gets even better. Many industries outside the energy sector, including chemicals and railroads, have benefited from the shale boom.
But there is one subsector in the energy industry that has reaped the rewards of plentiful oil from the Bakken and other areas more than any other, and that's the refining industry.