“Seven Bubble-Proof Asia Stocks”

This email teaser came in from Robert Hsu, and it includes a couple companies we’ve teased out before but also several new ones.

The tease is for Hsu’s Asia Edge service, his expensive one that costs $2,995 a year … you get the seven bubble proof Asia stocks “Free” when you start a subscription.

But I don’t have that kind of money to throw around for free reports … so let’s see if we can’t get a few ideas here for free. Readers sent in a couple solutions, I’ve done one or two of these before, and we’ll sniff out the rest.

The first “bubble proof” stock:

It’s located in Illinois, and does something to scrub soot from power plants, and it’s already working in India and China.

“It’s remarkable to think that a single undiscovered Illinois company with a patented solution for this mess is NOT in your portfolio.”

So … not a lot to go on, but China, India, patents and scrubbers in Illinois leads us to …

Well, there are a bunch of companies that make scrubbers or scrubber technology in Illinois, and virtually all of them have some kind of patent for something. But the most likely pick sent in by a reader (and I agree) is FuelTek (FTEK). They are working with coal plants in China, they do specifically clean coal emissions through work on the power plant itself (not just a scrubber on top of the smokestack).

And they’re not cheap. Forward PE of 50, so buyer beware and make sure they’ve really got that growth in the bag.

Bubble Proof Stock #2: “Call the Philippines”

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The most profitable call centers are in the Philippines (who knew?) … this company has something to do with them.

“Yes, an economic slowdown would hurt this call center stock—but it would have to be a catastrophic U.S. slowdown. Not impossible. Just unlikely.”

That’s got to be Philippine Long Distance (PHI). They have a subsidiary that runs call centers, as well as being the major telecom provider for the Philippines (wireless, broadband, and regular telephone), so they run the backbone for any other call centers in the country. Hsu has talked about them before. Not particularly expensive, and a decent yield of around 5% just like our big telecoms.

Bubble Proof Stock #3: “Container Yourself”

This is SeaSpan (SSW) — we’ve covered it from a Hsu teaser before, for this same service. Shipper that runs boats on long term charters to container companies, essentially ends up acting sort of like a MLP for container vessels. My full writeup, including my interpretation of how they make a profit, is here.

Bubble Proof Stock #4: “The B in BRIC”

This is for a Brazilian miner …

“Prices of iron ore are set annually, which puts a solid floor on earnings forecasts. Price negotiations with the Chinese steel producers have yielded steady increases in base price, spectacular earnings and juicy dividends.”

up 121% since September, forward PE of 9.

Hsu says, “You’ll walk away with a double in 18 months even if the Asia’s economic growth slows down a point or two.”

So what is it?

Gumshoe sez: Compania Vale do Rio Doce (RIO) — this big iron ore (and other stuff) miner is indeed a big supplier to China, and the price and PE ratio match quite perfectly. No secret here, but if you think steel demand will remain very strong there’s probably no reason to think RIO won’t do well over the long term.

And Bubble Proof Number 5: The “R” in BRIC

Which of course, is Russia. Investing in Russia scares me silly, but that’s not the question here.

This is for a mobile telecom company, operating in Russia and expanding to Armenia and Georgia with rapid growth.

That means it’s almost got to be …

Vimpel Communications (VIP), the big Russian mobile telecom company. They are already in many of the former Soviet states, and “recently acquired” companies in Georgia and Armenia to expand there. I don’t know much of anything about this company, other than the fact that I generally avoid investing directly in Russian companies, but the valuation seems pretty reasonable if they can keep piling on Eastern European subscribers at a decent price.

And bubble-proof #6: “Let the Games Continue”

Apparently, consumers love entertainment companies regardless of the economic cycle (don’t know if this is true, but Hsu says so).

“Our graphics chip maker was launched in California by a Taiwan immigrant, and it is his chips that you’ll find in Vista, Apple’s product-line, mobile TV phones and of course anywhere you need knock-’em-dead graphics. Here at Asia Edge, we’re up 39% in a few months in this stock, but the halo effect of the iPhone launch last week should accelerate these returns over the summer.”

That’s pretty much got to be Nvidia (NVDA) — based just outside LA and founded by Jen-Hsung Huang, who is indeed a Taiwanese immigrant. This is the most popular video accelerator chip company, certainly, and it trades at a nice premium. I know several other newsletters have pushed this one over the years, too, including some from the Motley Fool — they seem to keep their technological edge nicely.

Of course, whether they’ll continue to stay a step a head in the rapidly changing gaming chip industry, I don’t know. Even with analysts assuming some pretty rapid growth the forward PE remains over 20, so not crazy but certainly priced as the rapid growth stock it has been.

Which leads us to bubble-proof stock #7:

“Let’s end our Grand Tour of global stocks that safely ride the Asia Express by landing back in the Midwest, just a few miles from where we began in Illinois.”

Hmmm … I wonder how precise that “few miles” bit is.

“Are we buying corn futures or pork bellies? Not on your life! We’re buying the fertilizer company that’s racing to ship nitrogen and potash to the fields and rice paddies of Asia.”

OK, so a fertilizer company, potash and nitrogen, supplying China and based in the midwest. Maybe Illlinois, maybe a neighboring state.

That’s a little tough. A reader suggested Agrium, which is a Canadian company with an Illinois plant. It could be Terra Industries, the one we sniffed out from Navellier a few days ago (they’re in Iowa). CF Industries, an Illinois fertilizer company, might be a stronger pick if you think the company actually has to be in Illinois, though they don’t have any China business that I’m aware of.

All of these companies are priced for big growth, since nearly all investors now expect agriculture in general to be a boom market for quite some time, partially due to Ethanol and biofuels. All of these, to the best of my knowledge, are much more dependent on the US Midwestern farm economy than on any kind of export, and several of them don’t even actively mention any export plans.

The only largish fertilizer company I know of that is very active in China is Mosaic (MOS), which is some number of miles from Illinois in Minnesota. But to tell the truth, without more clues or precision (or really examining each company’s export plans) I can’t be positive about this one. If you can add to this, feel free to do so.

Are any of these companies really bubble-proof? Well, certainly some are only tangentially connected to China so they should have some protection from a China A share meltdown if it occurs, and some have yet to experience bubble valuations, but I have no idea how safe any of these investments are.

And personally, I’m not so convinced that China’s in a bubble that’s going to pop in the near future — with growth like they have that appears to be sustainable, even unstoppable, maybe it’s time to throw away our fears from the US market of 2000 and consider that sometimes stocks should be really expensive if the economy is growing at 10% and appears unlikely to stop growing. This is just my opinion, though, and I’m often wrong (though you can also tell from my portfolio that I’m not shying away from even China A shares at the moment).

Still, some interesting ideas from Hsu … and a lot less than $2,995!



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July 10, 2007 3:42 pm

The last one was indeed MOS as I tried a trial subscription with HSU. Really not a bad newsletter, just to expensive.

Howard King
Howard King
July 11, 2007 12:03 am

What is Eric Dickerson Analyst with Trinity Investment Research talking about in his column when he referes to RFID.I enjoy reading your comments every day keep up the good work.

July 15, 2007 6:06 am

If you google rfid you will find a good definition of Radio Frequency IDentification technology.

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