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What to make of Nexen's future Add to ...

Unlike OPTI Canada Inc., which has never recovered from the discouraging production outlook at Long Lake, Nexen Inc. has been able do survive the fallout. The company's first quarter results came out Wednesday and the numbers weren't too shabby, all things considered. But what is there to make of the company's future?

The analysts are split. Some, like TD's Menno Hulshof, are slightly pessimistic. The company missed its production estimates last quarter and he worries that there could be future misses because Long Lake doesn't look promising, the civil unrest in Yemen could grow and no one knows what to make of the proposed Nigerian Petroleum Industry Bill.

Still, given the chaos that erupted after OPTI and Nexen conceded that Long Lake faced some serious difficulties, Nexen hasn't fallen too far. And looking out into the future has some analysts upbeat. CIBC's Andrew Potter notes that there are many potential catalysts, including more exploration, a Horn River joint venture and advancing some Gulf of Mexico discoveries to firm up long-term growth visibility. Nexen also approved plans to develop a $1.2-billion (U.S.) oil field in the North Sea.

Plus, the company has taken measures to build its cash balance. In January Nexen loaded a $477-million position in Canexus, which had been long expected.

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