“$6 Canadian Oil Stock to $12 by Friday”

By Travis Johnson, Stock Gumshoe, June 11, 2008

This is another one from Louis Navellier, this time for his Global Growth newsletter — he’s going out on a bit of a limb with this one, saying that the stock will double in less than a week …

“All thanks to its mammoth Colombian, Argentinean, and Peruvian reserves. Buy this one today and I guarantee you’ll thank me a thousand times on June 13—or you won’t pay a dime.”

So … will he be right? And which stock are we talking about here?

Let’s go backwards, and talk for a sec about whether or not he will be right. This is a popular advertising ploy, promising dramatic short term performance, then saying that if they’re wrong and you’re dissatisfied, you get your money back.

Of course, they also know that once you subscribe to something, you’re (if you’re like most people) going to believe that it’s successful, at least in the near term — to ask for your money back is both a distasteful task for most folks, and an admission that you’ve ordered something you didn’t really want. Most people don’t do it.

And on the other side, Navellier’s marketing folks know that their marginal cost to send an email to each new member is almost nothing — if you do sign up based on this ad, then cancel your subscription and get your money back, they haven’t lost much. It doesn’t cost them any more to pay Louis and his researchers for 10,001 subscribers than it did to pay them to write to 10,000. And once you’re in the door, they’ve got a chance to impress you with the rest of the product, and show you the current picks that are making money, which means there’s at least a decent chance you’re going to stick around for a while as a paying subscriber even if their short-term promise of a double in this particular stock doesn’t come through.

So it’s hard for Navellier’s folks to lose in this situation, right or wrong.

Which doesn’t mean that this won’t be an interesting stock, nor that it won’t really double (anything can happen, after all) … just that I doubt they’re really looking at this as a huge bet on their part that the stock will perform as touted, even though they probably really believe it has a chance to do so. It’s primarily an advertising technique.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way … what’s the stock? I’m assuming you still want to know about that, yes?

OK, we get a few clues, aside from the fact that it’s a $6 stock that Naveller tells us he thinks will double by Friday (that’s this Friday, not next Friday, since the email’s been around for a few days).

They’ve got those oil reserves in Colombia, Argentina, and Peru. (Navellier mentions that these are the US-friendly countries South of the border, unlike Venezuela or Ecuador. I would say that’s maybe becoming a bit more arguable, particularly with Peru and Argentina, but they’re certainly friendlier than Chavez’s Venezuela.)

Here are the other clues we get:

“What’s more, this company’s quarterly revenue is exploding twice as fast as the big oil companies’—at an amazing 373% year over year! So it’s no surprise the stock is up a shocking 478% over the past 12 months.

“PLUS, with analysts now estimating the company’s sales growth to exceed 710% for the current quarter, you could easily expect a double in the next 14 days as the pension funds and oil and energy funds realign their holdings to improve their second-quarter performance.”

This is certainly a more timely newsletter ad than the last one we looked at from Navellier, since it is quite rare that the predictions will be as immediate as “a double in 14 days, guaranteed” … but does that mean it will happen?

Navellier says that this stock is already up 60% in the last month, and has doubled in the last 90 days. More clues, yippee!

So … ready to plop down $5,000 for a subscription to find out the name of the stock?

That’s an exaggeration, actually — apparently this one is “on sale” again for $699 for three months. Still not chump change, of course. Or if it is, I’d like to hang out with that chump.

So what is the company? Impatience grows!

“Rising oil prices will catapult this Canadian oil stock from $6 to $12 in the next 14 days without or without you. The best time to buy it is now—before it reports next quarter’s earnings.”

OK, that’s all we get in the way of clues. Some folks have already hazarded a few guesses on this one in the forums and on some earlier comments on the site, so let’s see if they’re right … a few moments on “liquefy” in the Thinkolator and we learn that Louis is promising a double in …

Gran Tierra Energy (GTE in both NY and Toronto)

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Not sure what he’s talking about with that “get in before the quarter is reported” business — they’re on a calendar quarter, so they won’t be reporting the June quarter for quite some time … they just reported their last earnings on May 12. So you’ve got plenty of time before the next earnings release if that’s what you want to wait for.

It was at about $6 when this email started circulating last week — and as you might imagine, given the emailing heft of Navellier’s publishers, it has gone up a bit. Certainly we’re far from a double so far, so you’ve still got some time if you accept the premise — it’s just under $7 right now, you’ve got two days to see if it’s going to get to $12 before Navellier’s deadline.

If you don’t subscribe to Global Growth, however, I expect Navellier won’t give you anything if he’s wrong — and whether you’re an Irregular or not, I make no promises about the prospects of Gran Tierra and won’t be paying you, either. Sorry, you’ve got to figure out on your own whether it’s worth an investment.

So what do we know about Gran Tierra, other than the fact that analysts really are predicting 710% sales growth for this next quarter?

Well, they are a new company — formed just a few years ago, with mergers and add-on acquisitions used to build up their reserve and exploration portfolio in South America. They don’t have any debt as far as I can tell (they have a facility, but it doesn’t look like they’ve used it yet), though they’ve done a fair amount of capital raising over the last few years.

They did double their reserves last year over 2006, so that’s quite promising, and they’ve announced that they’ll be doing a reserves audit at the end of June, probably to be followed at some point by an updated number — and the number will probably go up, since they’re continuing to make new discoveries and book reserves as new wells are completed, particularly in Colombia most recently.

And their earnings have been growing like gangbusters, albeit from a very low level — they’ve been profitable for less than a year, and those first quarters of earnings alway show up as massive percentage moves. They’re still trading at a huge multiple to current earnings, you’re really betting on their growth continuing to come through if you buy today — trailing PE is about 250, but forward PE comes all the way down to 13 if the analysts are correct. So far, the few analysts who made quarterly predictions for the last couple quarters have been proven a bit too optimistic, but there have been some shut-in production problems and some “one time” expenses that have hurt earnings a bit lately, which can easily crush the estimates when the raw numbers for earnings are so teeny.

Louis tells us that “you could easily expect a double in the next 14 days as the pension funds and oil and energy funds realign their holdings to improve their second-quarter performance” … so essentially, the short term bet is that because they are continuing to pump oil at higher and higher prices, and because more production is expected to come on line before too long, the institutional investors will be jumping on board now to get it on their books before the end of the quarter.

I suppose that’s feasible, but it seems a little thin as a rationale for a stock doubling. I’m more convinced by the momentum in the share price, which clearly shows a rising level of awareness