Speculating on a Possible Investment…

Twitter got slammed again. Shares in the online ‘self-expression platform’ are down about 50% so far this year.

Your editor believes he recommended you sell high-flying tech stocks. If he didn’t, he should have. But he does not usually make investment recommendations. He does not do investment analysis. He does not often invest.

Instead, he waits. And waits. And waits — until a bargain screams so loudly in his ear it threatens his hearing.

But even at that moment, he hesitates. When something is so cheap it appears to be a ‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’ his feet grow cold.

What’s wrong with it, he wonders? If it’s so cheap, there must be a reason. What do all those people who don’t want it know that he doesn’t? Blood in the streets doesn’t bother him; but what if the next blood trickling down the gutter is his own!

Then he is delayed and disturbed by the philosophic implications. If there had really been a dollar bill lying on the sidewalk in front of him, surely someone would have picked it up? And if someone had picked it up…it couldn’t still be there, could it? Well then, it isn’t there, no matter what his eyes tell him.

But what do skittish, panic-prone markets do…except wig out from time to time? And what good are they if coldblooded and steel-nerved investors can’t take advantage of them? And how would they ever get back to normal if all investors took temporary madness as proof of permanent impairment?

Assuming the market anomaly is still with us by the time this cranial indigestion has passed, we are ready to act. And you, dear reader, are the beneficiary. For today, we give you a recommendation…

After all, it was Mother’s Day on Sunday. Perhaps Mr. Market is feeling flush with filial fondness for dear ol’ mom. Here he comes…his hands forward and a bright red bow wrapped around his precious gift.

What is it? Gazprom!

We are talking about Russia…and specifically about a gift that keeps on giving. Gazprom controls more than 15% of global gas production and reserves. And we expect it is going to be selling that gas for a long, long time.

Gazprom has a return on equity of about 13%…and a net profit margin of nearly 30%. By comparison, ExxonMobil has an ROE of 18% and a net profit margin only half as high.

According to data from Reuters, you can buy ExxonMobil for 13.8 times its 12-month ‘as reported’ earnings. And you can buy Gazprom for just 2.7 times its 12-month ‘as reported’ earnings.

By this measure, a dollar’s worth of earnings from the US oil major will cost you $13.80. But each dollar of Gazprom’s earnings will cost you just $2.70.

Does this mean you should expect the share price of Gazprom to go up any time soon?


For all we know, the entire Russian army stands amassed on the border of Ukraine, and every valve capable of delivering Russian gas to Europe has a pair of hands on it, determined to shut it off.

Another fact recorded in the book we can’t seem to find, is that next year an inventor will discover a marvellous way to power the world on water — making gas obsolete. And the year after, a report from the FDA will tell us that Russian gas causes people to gain weight — another devastating blow to Gazprom.

All we know is that some things are expensive and other things are cheap; and Gazprom looks more down than up. Of course, we spend our investment lives looking for assets that are absurdly cheap; when we come face to face with one, we don’t want to duck.


Bill Bonner
for Markets and Money

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Since founding Agora Inc. in 1979, Bill Bonner has found success and garnered camaraderie in numerous communities and industries. A man of many talents, his entrepreneurial savvy, unique writings, philanthropic undertakings, and preservationist activities have all been recognized and awarded by some of America’s most respected authorities. Along with Addison Wiggin, his friend and colleague, Bill has written two New York Times best-selling books, Financial Reckoning Day and Empire of Debt. Both works have been critically acclaimed internationally. With political journalist Lila Rajiva, he wrote his third New York Times best-selling book, Mobs, Messiahs and Markets, which offers concrete advice on how to avoid the public spectacle of modern finance. Since 1999, Bill has been a daily contributor and the driving force behind Markets and Money.

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