Standard & Poor's Equity Research has raised its recommendation on shares of Hess Corp., New York, (NYSE: HES) from Hold to Buy.

S&P analyst Tina Vital says Hess posted first quarter operating losses per share of $0.09 versus operating earnings per share of $2.34 on lower oil prices and refining margins. Results excluded $0.09 of special charges, and beat S&P’s estimate by $0.12 on lower-than-expected costs.

Oil and gas production declined slightly, and with exploration success S&P looks for 2% growth in 2009 and about 3% in 2010. The firm raised its 2009 operating earnings-per-share estimate by $0.49 to $1.00, 2010’s by $1.04 to $2.11 and 2011’s by $1.98 to $4.56. Blending DCF and relative market valuations, S&P kept its target price of $67, at an expected enterprise value of 6.3x its 2010 EBITDA estimate.

Hess is a global integrated energy company.