5 stocks to buy during this oil market retreat?

oil rig in the sun

The price of oil has fallen by nearly 20% over the last eight weeks. After hitting a high of almost $53 per barrel on 8 June, the price of Brent crude has fallen to $43. My view is that this pull-back is part of the rebalancing process. Global oil supply is now falling, while demand remains firm. I believe now could be a good time to invest in oil stocks such as those below.

A 66-year dividend history

Royal Dutch Shell (LSE: RDSB) hasn't cut its dividend since WWII. The company is committed to maintaining the current payout of $1.86 per share, which equates to a yield of 7% at current prices. Last week's interim results disappointed the market, but six months is nothing to a group like Shell, whose business plans stretch decades into the future.

Shell's full-year profits are expected to rise by 40% in 2016 and by 67% in 2017. At 2,000p, I believe the shares are decent value for long-term investors.

A focus on cash returns?

Vietnam-focused oil and gas producer SOCO International (LSE: SIA) reported net cash of $90m on 8 June. That means about 27p of the current 150p share price is covered by cash. Generating cash is very much a focus of SOCO's operations, perhaps because founder and chief executive Edward Story owns 4.4% of the firm.

SOCO's low operating costs mean that it can achieve cash flow break-even with oil in the low $20s per barrel. The firm is also pursuing a $52.7m payment owed to it from a past asset sale. Future cash returns could be generous.

North Sea opportunity

Norwegian North Sea operator Faroe Petroleum (LSE: FPM) recently spent $70m to acquire a number of new producing assets from Norwegian firm DONG E&P. These are expected to add 8,000 barrels per day of production to Faroe's output.

The new assets' operating costs are estimated at around $19 per barrel. They're expected to reduce Faroe's group operating costs to $26 per barrel, compared to $30 per barrel without the acquisition. I believe Faroe shares could do well over the next few years.

Poised for profit?

Ithaca Energy (LSE: IAE) operates in the UK North Sea and is about to open the taps on the transformational Greater Stella Area development.

Stella is expected to add 16,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd) to Ithaca's existing production of 9,000 boepd. Analysts are forecasting a profit of $47m on revenue of $454m for 2017. That puts Ithaca stock on a 2017 forecast P/E of just 6.1.

If Ithaca can use the Stella cash to quickly repay its $606m net debt, then I believe the firm's shares could deliver big gains from here.

A high-quality explorer?

Raising cash for oil exploration is tough in the current environment. But North Sea firm Hurricane Energy (LSE: HUR) managed to raise £52m in a placing at 15p per share in April.

At the time, this represented a 46% premium to the previous day's closing share price of 10.3p per share. That's an impressive achievement, reflecting investors' confidence in Hurricane founder Dr Robert Trice and the firm's Lancaster oil field.

If this year's two-well drilling plan is successful, I believe Hurricane could deliver further gains for shareholders.

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Roland Head owns shares of Royal Dutch Shell. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Royal Dutch Shell B. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.

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