2 Sleeping Giants to Watch (or Own) in 2013

December 16, 2012 1:37 pm
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2 Sleeping Giants to Watch (or Own) in 2013

Believe it or not, it is possible for a company to sport a large market capitalization and lead a somewhat anonymous existence. Yes, it sure seems like most of the stocks discussed in the mainstream financial press have large market values, whether it is Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL), Exxon Mobil (NYSE: XOM), Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) or a host of others.

Here is the thing: Financial media on television is constrained by airtime and print publications are constrained by space. That is to say it is possible for some large companies to fall through the cracks from time to time. Those may not be valid excuses in the eyes of some, but it is the reality of the world that investors live in today.

With 2013 right around the corner, here are some of the sleeping giants that investors may want to become involved with in the new year.

Occidental Petroleum (NYSE: OXY)
ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP) is now an independent oil company and that makes Occidental the third-largest U.S. integrated oil firm behind Exxon Mobil and Chevron (NYSE: CVX). California-based Occidental is nowhere near the size of those companies as its current market value is “just” $61.7 billion compared to over $401 billion for Exxon billion.

Still, Occidental, which does not drill offshore, is worth keeping an eye on next year. Here’s why: The company is the dominant acreage holder in California’s Monterey Shale. An ambitious estimate says the Monterey Shale has 15 billion barrels of recoverable reserves, making it larger than the Bakken Shale.

Even if Monterey holds just a third or half of that number, shale play would prove to be a boon for Occidental. The problem is the Monterey Shale is in California and despite the fact that the state has a long history of oil production, it is also has a long history of being hostile toward oil and gas production. To date, permit approvals for Monterey exploration and production have been lethargic.

Worse yet, California’s concerns about the potential environmental ramifications of tapping the Monterey Shale could overshadow some cold realities about the state itself. California’s economy, the largest in the U.S., is burdened with an unemployment rate well above that is well above the national average and soaring pension and retirement benefit obligations to public employees.

If California politicians come to their senses and realize the state needs more private sector jobs to support the largess the state heaps on its public employees, than Occidental might be able to start tapping Monterey for all its worth. That is to say most oil companies spend a lot of time lobbying in Washington, D.C. Occidental needs to devote its efforts to Sacramento and the politicians need to listen. There is a chance that everyone from Occidental investors to the California tax collector will win if the Monterey is responsibly tapped.

Bancolombia (NYSE: CIB)
Colombia’s largest bank sports a market capitalization of just over $14 billion, making it pale in comparison to its U.S. equivalents. In Bancolombia’s favor is this interesting tidbit: The bank did not suspend its dividend during the global financial crisis.

Investors can do better than the 2.4 percent dividend yield, but before focusing solely on that number, it should be noted Bancolombia’s dividend growth has been vastly superior to that of the mega-cap money-center U.S. banks. The payout has quadrupled over the past eight years.

It may run counter to what many investors have previously thought about the country, but Colombia is home to one of Latin America’s more advanced banking sectors and one that some analysts have said is ripe for consolidation.

Investors that want exposure to Colombian banks with making a bet on a specific name can consider the Global X FTSE Colombia 20 ETF (NYSE: GXG). Financials account for 17.1 percent of the fund’s weight and Bancolombia is the ETF’s second-largest holding.

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