Energy Buys — Sleeper and Scam?

By Travis Johnson, Stock Gumshoe, April 8, 2011

This week, with oil prices again going crazy on Libya and with a continued interest in natural gas among investors, I thought I’d share a few thoughts on two energy stocks I’ve just purchased — one addition to an existing position, which I continue to really like as a “sleeper” gas and oil stock, and one new buy, which is ridiculously speculative and might turn out to be overhyped or a scam.

The sleeper is one you’ve seen me mention before: Dorchester Minerals (DMLP), which I profiled as the “Idea of the Month” in this space back in September and started buying myself about a week later. This is essentially a gas and oil trust with massive land holdings that trades as a Master Limited Partnership — and I like to call them a “sleeper” because they make absolutely no effort to get any attention from investors (just check out their website — it’s even more amateurish and limited than Berkshire Hathaway or Leucadia … which is probably a good thing. I just increased my DMLP position by about 80%.

And the possible scam (that’s probably an exaggeration — “overhyped” may be a better word) is Manas Petroleum (MNAP), which I just bought in a small way — so obviously I don’t think it’s a complete scam, though I am cautious on this one and I might be wrong. Manas Petroleum is sort of like a prospect generator in energy — they buy up exploration blocks, mostly in somewhat iffy areas (where most of the oil seems to be, unfortunately), do initial geologic work and seismic data collection, try to put a good exploration package together and maybe even start drilling, and then farm the project out to a large operator who can develop it … with the goal of keeping a minority interest but not doing the most expensive part of the exploration and development themselves.

Unfortunately, they’re also one of the many small cap commodity stocks that has paid stock promoters to profile and publicize the company, and they’re tied in with a big investor who has a history of questionable and controversial investments in the Vancouver junior miners (including one real scam that I’ve heard of) and in InterOil, which is usually a red flag for me (on the flip side, they also count George Soros as an investor … which isn’t necessarily ...

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