Even though the sector is largely cyclical, many energy companies keep their bottom lines black during the troughs. Look for this characteristic in your energy investments.
OPEC is a highly beneficial force in the energy sector because it keeps commodity prices above its costs. It is worth keeping tabs on the cartel's strength.
Because of OPEC, we view exploration and production as a much more attractive area than refining and marketing.
Working in a commodity market, economies of scale are just about the only way to achieve a competitive advantage. As such, bigger is generally better because firms with greater heft tend to be more profitable.
Keep an eye on reserves and reserve growth because these are the hard assets the company will mine for future revenue.
Companies with strong balance sheets will weather cyclical lows better than those burdened with debt. Look for companies that don't need to take on additional debt to invest in new projects while also paying dividends or repurchasing shares.
Ref: The Five Rules for Successful Stock Investing by Pat Dorsey
Investor's Checklist: A Guided Tour of the Market...