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On a day when energy stocks and the price of crude oil are being decimated, Suncor Energy Inc. sticks out. The energy producer, which has a big stake in Canada's oil sands, was up modestly in mid-afternoon trading on Tuesday while the energy sector was down 1.6 per cent.

Clearly, investors like something in the company's first quarter results, released before the start of trading. Suncor's reported earnings were 46 cents a share. After excluding one-time items, they were 18 cents a share, a little higher than the 15 cents expected by analysts.

Randy Ollenberger, an analyst at BMO Nesbitt Burns, pointed out that there other aspects of the results also topped expectations. For example, Suncor's earnings from its oil sands operations were 7 cents a share, considerably higher than his forecast for a loss of 3 cents a share. This was mostly due to lower-than-expected operating costs. So-called upstream oil production was also slightly ahead of estimates.

Mr. Ollenberger maintained an "outperform" recommendation on the stock, with a 12-month price target of $40.

Meanwhile, Royal Bank of Canada upgraded its recommendation on the stock to "outperform" from "sector perform" following the release of the quarterly results. However, the analyst maintained a target price of $46 on the stock.