You’ve probably heard of LNG tankers — I’ve written about them a few times, and several stocks in the LNG shipping business have been teased over the last few years. Essentially, Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) is a super-cooled form of natural gas that can be shipped via large ocean tankers, and the promise is that LNG can help turn natural gas into a globally traded commodity instead of a locally traded commodity, which would normalize prices as folks buy cheap gas in Australia or the US, ship it, and sell it in places like Western Europe or Japan or South Korea where prices are substantially higher (since they don’t have enough inexpensive natural gas production within a pipeline’s distance of their consumers).
LNG transport has particularly taken off as an investing theme in recent years for two main reasons: The Japan earthquake, and US hydrofracking. The Japanese earthquake shut down their nuclear plants and forced them to ramp up natural gas imports dramatically to meet their electricity generation needs; and hydrofracking and horizontal drilling in places like the Fayetteville and Marcellus Shales in the US has dropped US natural gas prices so low that the price differential around the globe has increased, and even US producers (and regulators) are starting to consider eventually exporting gas. There are other factors too, of course, including increased LNG exports from Qatar and new discoveries around the world, particularly in Australia and offshore Africa (both West and East), but the basic premise is that there are a lot of companies trying to make a profit by producing cheap natural gas and selling it to places far away where prices are far higher — and it’s relatively easy to do now, with transport costs substantially below the recent extreme price differentials that we’ve see around the world (ie, natural gas at $3 in the US and at $15 in South Korea).
Which means we need an efficient transportation system for natural gas — liquefaction and regasification facilities as well as a large enough fleet of LNG tankers — to enable this global trade. LNG has been around for a long time, and there was a prior boom of LNG shipping 30 or so years ago, but the market was small enough, with so few terminals and trade routes, that the only way to make it work was to have the few tankers chartered for very long periods to the few companies who were actively shipping gas, and it was far from exciting or lucrative — unlike shipping crude oil, there weren’t many competitive providers of ships or competing customers who would pay up to get quick access to a tanker.
That’s starting to change now, with many more LNG producers and customers and enough of a global flow in LNG Trade that there are even some tankers that trade on the “spot” market to meet urgent demand and get higher rates as well as the much larger number of tankers that are on long term charters… and to top that off, many of the new discoveries are far from the expected customers (we may see them shipping natural gas from Angola to Japan, for example), and longer routes also demand more tankers. So the basic backdrop, assuming that the world doesn’t return to the stone age, is pretty compelling — increased demand for LNG shipping seems almost inevitable, and there was almost no investment at all into LNG tanker construction for 20 years, so it seems likely that even the wave of new tankers being built will probably be able to be absorbed by increasing demand.
And now Elliott Gue is jumping aboard by teasing that he’s got a special report on his “#1 LNG Tanker Stock to Buy Now.” And, well, we want to know what it is. Preferably without shelling out a few hundred bucks for his newsletter … so how does he tease us?
“My Top Pick for Price-Proof Profits
“Because LNG shippers lock in long-term rates, they’re immune to fluctuations that can wreck havoc on others in the energy chain.
“So whether natural gas prices go up or down… the profits for LNG tankers will almost certainly keep rolling in.
“And what if natural gas just stays cheap? That’s great… because then more of it is bought, sold and transported, which means good business for tankers.
“This is why I’m comfortable saying that LNG tankers are the surest energy play with so much upside right now.
“No, they won’t capture headlines the way big new oil and gas discoveries will… but who cares?
“Grab the right LNG tanker now and you’ll get rich quietly. And here’s the one I’d grab right now, if I were you:
“Right now, it operates 14 LNG carriers—with 8 more on the way. And it’s already signed long-term contracts to deliver LNG for Shell and BP.
“It charters out its tankers for $147,000 per day, leading to fat operating margins of 33%.
“Even better: Charter revenues are expected to skyrocket from $56 million this year… to $210 million in 2015. That’s barely two years from now.
“And that’s not all: Goldman Sachs believes this dynamo is undervalued by at l