April Idea of the Month: Cambodian Slot Machines

By Travis Johnson, Stock Gumshoe, April 19, 2010

If it looks like I’m shying away from US stocks with many of my recent ideas and investments, well, it kind of feels that way to me, too.  I’d hate to have to start with a cash portfolio and have to throw it all into an index fund at current prices, with so many companies looking quite expensive these days … but of course I’m no macro forecaster — I just look for interesting stocks to profile for you in this space, and try to write about them at useful times, when the price and prospects seem nicely aligned (would that I were always right).

This stock is an example of what looks generally appealing to me right now: It’s a bet on consumers in Asia, it’s small but not teensy, it has an extremely profitable business model that’s proven, it carries no long term debt, and it’s priced reasonably for last year’s earnings and dividend, which look like they might have been the trough … oh, and it’s got a politically connected major shareholder and a high dividend policy, and an almost irreplaceable asset.  This stock is one that I’ve owned in the past but do not now own (I may rectify that after my blackout period is complete):

NagaCorp (ticker 3918 in Hong Kong, NGCRF on the pink sheets).

If you’re able to buy directly in Hong Kong or instruct your broker to do so for you, that’s always the best bet — but if you’re patient, US investors should also be able to pick up shares of NagaCorp on the pink sheets, perhaps at a slight premium to the fair closing price in Hong Kong.  If you decide to buy the shares that way, remember to check the currency exchange rate before putting in a limit order bid (never a market order, especially for pink sheet stocks) — NagaCorp is a Cambodian company that generally reports in US$, but they’re listed in Hong Kong and the share price is in HK$ — so at HK$1.09, which is where it closed on Monday morning, the current exchange rate of 7.76 HK dollars per US$ would give you a current fair price of $.14 — in that case, if you’re interested in being a long-term holder of the shares you might be willing to pay a small premium to buy them with the convenience and usually lower commission of ...

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