How To Ignore The Noise When Investing
During the past few weeks, investors have seen political noise absolutely dominate the markets.
Traders with a short-term focus were risking real money based on the expectation of a political outcome and the market's reaction to that outcome. It is harder to think of a more dangerous way to speculate with your dollars outside of a casino.
A far more productive use of time for long-term investors would be to realize that most of the folks on the financial news networks provide far more entertainment that they do real investment knowledge or useful information. The distraction of switching to this or that Capitol Hill session as if it is of immediate importance to investors is at best a distraction and at worst can be extraordinarily expensive.
A far better use of time would be to search for the cheapest stocks in the US that have the potential for huge long-term returns regardless of what the politicians and the markets do over the next few months or years.
If you look for nonfinancial stocks that have decent liquidity and size some very interesting names pop up that are more than worthy of consideration. One of the very cheapest right now is Harvest Natural Resources (NYSE: HNR) an energy company that has some twists and turns to its situation. The company has assets in Venezuela it is try to monetize through a deal with a local company called Pluspetrol.
The Venezuelan political situation of pretty hostile and the company has been told not to take any cash from their operations out of the country making a sale the best course of action. Should they succeed the remaining operations, including exploration projects off of Africa and China will be spun off to shareholders and Harvest Natural will be sold to Pluspetrol. It's a long way for a sure thing, but if successfully concluded, the transaction should be worth $8 to $9 a share for current investor in cash and shares of the new spinoff company.
There has been a preliminary discussion to sell its interest in the operations in Gabon, West Africa and would return that cash to stockholders as well if a deal is reached. At 50 percent of tangible book value, there is a lot of shareholder value to be unlocked and management appears to be exploring the best options to achieve that task.
It should come as no surprise that the largest US miner of silver makes the list of super cheap stocks as well. Coeur Mining (NYSE: CDE) has operations in Nevada and Alaska as well as Mexico and Bolivia. The company not only has seen its stock price hammered by falling metal prices but they are also a higher cost producer in a bad market for their underlying business. The company also had to close down part of its most productive operations in Mexico as a result of structural problems.
Management is taking steps to cut cost by more than $25 million and will be cutting back capital expenditures by more than 15 percent in an effort to ramp up cash flow and profitability. CEO Mitchell Krebs recently told Barron's magazine, “We're focused on maximizing our cash flow. By employing a modest amount of capital into our existing mines, we will generate high rates of return." If silver prices stabilize or improve in the next few years, this stock could easily double or more from the current depressed stock price.
There will always be noise in the markets. Headlines form market darlings like Google (NASDAQ: GOOG), Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) and Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) dominate the daily discussions and add very little information that is useful to long term investors. There will always be issues surrounding our domestic fiscal issues or tension and unrest in the Middle East.
Commentators will breathlessly tell you how critical these situations are for investors. In truth, unless there is an immediate inventory creation event they are of very little practical use at all. The time as a long-term asset based investor is better spent looking for cheap stocks and special situations like the ones mentioned here. There are more.
The investor's job is to find them and own them until they are worth several multiples of the current depressed price.
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