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Tickers in this Article: STR, QEP, EEP, AMJ, USO, BP
The last three months have not been friendly to the oil and gas sector. For starters, the price of oil stocks is down roughly 18% since hitting highs back in April, as measured by the United States Oil Fund LP (NYSE:USO). That, of course, doesn't tell the full story. Many of the companies in the sector are also down anywhere between 5% and 45% in the last quarter's trade, and British Petroleum plc (NYSE:BP), one of the largest players in the space, hasn't produced benefits to the image of the industry.

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Still, there have been a number of issues that have bucked the trend mightily, mostly in the pipeline sub-sector, and mostly Master Limited Partnerships.

Spinoff Leads to Big Gains
Shares of Questar Corp. (NYSE:STR) have been rising steadily since bottoming in October of 2008 and stand today nearly 150% higher. But in the last three months, while the rest of the sector has been reeling under the weight of lower crude prices, shares in Questar have managed to rise 6.5%.

Questar shares pay a 3.1% annual dividend and trade with a price/earnings ratio of just 7.5. The company operates as an oil and gas exploration company and as a distributor of natural gas in Utah, Wyoming and Idaho.

Last month, Questar completed the sale of an oil exploration and production subsidiary, QEP Resources, Inc. (NYSE:QEP), a move that had a markedly positive effect on the parent company. Since the spinoff, Questar has climbed almost 9%. QEP, on the other hand, is off 16.5% since its IPO.

Beating the MLP Pack by a Bunch
Master Limited Partnership Enbridge Energy Partners (NYSE:EEP) is a $6.7 billion company by market cap whose stock has risen 12.6% in the last three months. That beats the JPMorgan Alerian MLP Index ETN (NYSE:AMJ) by a wide margin. That index is up just 5% over that same period.

Enbridge pays a 7% dividend and trades at a multiple of 17-times last year's earnings. The company owns and operates nearly 16,000 miles worth of crude and other liquid petroleum pipelines as well as 29 gas treatment and storage facilities.

The Bottom Line
MLPs have led the counter-trend advance in the energy sector these last few months. In fact, outside of the pipelines - which make up the bulk of the MLP universe - investors saw very little upside in energy this quarter. (For more stock analysis, see Nuclear Energy Of The Future.)

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