Jerry Myers, district manager for Kodiak Oil & Gas, walks along a catwalk at the top of crude oil storage tanks on a well site outside Watford City, N.D. © Daniel Acker, Bloomberg via Getty Images

Compiled from StockScouter ratings by Verus Analytics

With high-flying biotech stocks and momentum names like Amazon.com (AMZN), down 22 percent on the year, pulling the tech-heavy Nasdaq ($COMPX) out of the clouds this week, investors might consider a more down-to-earth approach.

Literally, they may want to drill down into the earth: No fewer than five oil- and gas-related companies appear on StockScouter’s latest list of 10 stocks to watch.

Leading the pack is Denver-based Kodiak Oil & Gas (KOG), whose oil and natural gas reserves and operations are concentrated in North Dakota’s Williston Basin. Kodiak is a relatively small player in the energy sector – compare its modest $3.5 billion market cap to that of Exxon-Mobil (XOM) at $417 billion -- but investors and analysts are taking note of this Bakken Shale play. Bank of America Merrill Lynch initiated coverage on Kodiak last week with a buy rating and a $16 price target; shares were trading Friday at just above $13. 

Energy equipment maker Weatherford International (WFT) and oil and gas producers ConocoPhillips (COP), Chevron (CVX) and Devon Energy (DVN) also claimed spots among this week’s top 10 picks.

Shares of Kodiak Oil & Gas get a '10' from the StockScouter rating system on MSN Money, the highest score possible. Based on StockScouter's analysis, shares of KOG are expected to significantly outperform the market over the next six months with average risk.

Read the full Scouter report on Kodiak Oil & Gas here.

StockScouter Top 10 for April 11

Company

Sector

Dividend yield

Forward P/E

Scouter score

Kodiak Oil & Gas (KOG)

Oil and gas

NA

16.4

10

AT&T (T)

Telecommunications

5.3%

11.49

Verizon (VZ)

Telecommunications

4.4%

11.4

9

Weatherford International (WFT) 

Oil and gas equipment and servicesNA11.19

ConocoPhillips (FIG)

Oil and gas3.9%10.59

Chevron (CVX) 

Oil and gas

3.4%

10.6

9

Devon Energy (DVN)

Information technology

1.4%

11.0

8

AmBev S.A. (ABEV)

Breweries & beverages

0.6%

34.6

10

American Realty Capital Properties (ARCP)

Resorts & casinos

6.9%

35.7

10

Freeport McMoRan (FCX)

Real estate investment trust (REIT)

3.7%

11.0

10

StockScouter beats the market

We think the StockScouter rating system developed by Verus Analytics for MSN Money is one of the best tools you can use when you're trying to decide where to invest.

StockScouter looks for stocks whose business fundamentals, price behavior, valuation and stock-ownership characteristics appear to predict a rising price in the future, based on how those factors have influenced stock prices in the past.

The system assigns each stock an expected six-month return and balances that return against the stock's expected volatility.

Scouter rates stocks on a scale of 1 to 10, and ratings can change daily. Ratings and data in the chart above were current as of this article's publication date.

In addition to the daily top 10 list described above, StockScouter is used by investment research firm Verus Analytics (previously known as the quantitative business unit of Gradient Analytics) to generate a monthly benchmark portfolio of stocks that, refreshed monthly, has outperformed the market since its inception in August 2001.

An investor who began in 2001 by investing in each of the benchmark portfolio's top 10 stocks at the start of the month, selling them at the end of the month and then starting fresh with a new group of 10 stocks, would have generated returns, before trading costs and taxes, of 1,069 percent through March 31, 2014.

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Writer Jon Markman, at the time a columnist for MSN Money, collaborated with company researchers on the tool.

Markman suggested rolling over the top 10 stocks every six months to hold down trading costs, a strategy that might be a better fit for most investors; that would yield different results, which would vary based on your starting point.

Performance through March 31, 2014

Full 50 position portfolio    

Index

1 month

3 month

6 month

1 year

Since
inception

Average
annual
return

Portfolio

1.0%

2.2%

12.1%

16.7%

593.6%

17.0%

Nasdaq

-2.5%

0.5%

11.3%

28.5%

107.1%

7.8%

S&P 500

0.7%

1.3%

11.4%

19.3%

54.6%

4.6%

DJIA

0.8%

-0.7%

8.8%

12.9%

56.4%

4.6%

Top 10 portfolio

Index

1 month

3 month

6 month

1 year

Since
inception

Average
annual return

Portfolio

2.2%

2.6%

15.0%

9.3%

1,069.1%

21.2%

Nasdaq

-2.5%

0.5%

11.3%

28.5%

107.1%

7.8%

S&P 500

0.7%

1.3%

11.4%

19.3%

54.6%

4.6%

DJIA

0.8%

-0.7%

8.8%

12.9%

56.4%

4.6%

Inception: August 2001