December Idea of the Month: Close it Down

Looking at some higher-yield ideas for the end of the year, plus a check-in on Altius Minerals

By Travis Johnson, Stock Gumshoe, December 12, 2014

December is the time of year when most people (including me) think about selling, not buying. For those with taxable accounts, this is the opportunity to cut your tax bill a little bit by turning those paper losses into actual cash losses by selling stocks that have gone down.

But that also creates some opportunity. It’s hard to get a handle on what’s happening this Fall, because the downturn for some sectors has been so wildly abrupt — particularly for energy stocks and other natural resources investments — but mediocre and poor performers for the year are likely dropping too much right now because so many people are selling them to reap their taxable losses before the calendar turns to 2015. I’ve done that, too, closing out some positions in the last month or two — though most of my assets are in tax-deferred accounts, so tax considerations don’t generally play a huge role in my trading.

I don’t want to make any suggestions within the beaten-down natural resources space, because the market upset is so dramatic that there’s little reason to suggest that the price today is a particularly great price — there’s just no certainty at all about pricing for most of these commodities, and therefore for most of the stocks that produce and handle them. But I will share some thoughts about a couple of these before we get to this month’s (more conservative) investment idea.

First, it’s probably time to take another look at what I consider my most conservative commodity investment, ALtius Minerals (ALS.TO, ATUSF). Altius reported this week, the second full quarter after their transformation to a royalty company — and the stock is almost exactly where it was one year ago, before they announced their dramatic acquisition of a big royalty and development portfolio in Western Canada on Christmas Eve last year. That acquisition is going fine, it closed right before the first quarter so we now have two quarters of “real” results from the royalties — and the headlines look terrible. That might actually be an opportunity, if we believe that selling in Altius has been driven by these bad headline numbers that don’t necessarily reflect the company’s cash flow potential.

The royalty acquisition deal was done as a partnership, so Altius owns half and an insurance investment fund owns the other half. The results are reported, and ...

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