Monday, April 13, 2009

How to Invest in Cuba

Now that the United States is easing restrictions on Cuban Americans traveling to Cuba and allowing them to send money to their Cuban relatives, investors are looking for any possible Cuban investment plays. Other good news for Cuba includes that fact that U.S. telecom companies are now allowed to do business in Cuba. Also, many believe that Obama may improve relations with Cuba, which may lead to more loosening of restrictions of all Americans traveling to Havana. Here are a few companies that have Cuban connections.

Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. (FCX) is the large mining company involved in the exploration and production of copper, gold, and silver, along with other minerals. The Moa Mine located at Moa Bay in Cuba is owned by Freeport-McMoRan but was confiscated by Fidel Castro in the late 1950's revolution. The stock has a forward P/E of 17, and a PEG of 8.75.

Sherritt International (SHERF.PK) is a Toronto, Ontario based mining, and oil, and gas company that is one of the largest foreign investors in Cuba, having more business in Cuba than any other Canadian company. A major portion of their revenues are generated by the Moa Mine in Cuba, as a joint venture with a Cuban government company. They also operate Varadero, Canasí, Yumuri, Puetro Escondido oil and gas fields which they have leased in Cuba. In addition, Sherritt owns, Energas, the Cuban electric utility. The stock trades on the Toronto Stock Exchange in Canada and on the Pink Sheets in the United States, and recently generated negative earnings of 91 cents per share.

Since more cruise travel should be opening up in the near future with Cuba, Carnival Corp. (CCL), which is one of the largest cruise and vacation companies in the world, should participate in that business. Their cruise lines which operate out of North America, the United Kingdom, Germany and Italy, include Carnival Cruise Lines, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Seabourn Cruise Line and Windstar Cruises in North America; AIDA in Germany; Costa Cruises in southern Europe; P&O Cruises, Cunard Line, Ocean Village and Swan Hellenic in the United Kingdom; and P&O Cruises in Australia. They operate a fleet of 81 ships, and will be receiving another 20 ships between now and 2011. They are headquartered in Miami, Florida and London, England. They have a P/E of 9, PEG of 0.8, and a yield of 6.3%.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCL) , which should also participate with trips to Cuba, owns Royal Caribbean International [19 cruise ships with over 44,000 berths] and Celebrity Cruises [9 cruise ships with over 15,000 berths]. They also own Pullmantur S.A., which has five ships in Europe and Latin America. The company plans on having six more ships by the end of 2010. They also offers land tour vacations in Alaska, Canada and Europe. They are headquartered in Miami, Florida. Their P/E is 4, P/S 0.58, yield 6%.

Herzfeld Caribbean Basin Fund Inc. (CUBA) is a closed end fund which is a diversified way of playing the Cuba economy. It invests in stocks of the of the Caribbean Basin Countries and the United States. The stock has recently generated negative earnings and yields 2.9%.

Cuban Electric Co. (CGAR.PK) owns property in Cuba that was confiscated by Castro. The company trades occasionally on the Pink Sheets.

Sol Melia (SMIZF.PK) which is based in Spain, operates about 25% of the hotels in Cuba. Net profit margin is 12% and operating margin of 19%.

Trailer Bridge Inc. (TRBR) is a marine freight carrier between the U.S. and Puerto Rico which is expected to benefit from expansion to Cuba at some point in the future. The stock has a forward P/E of 9.

Petroleo Brasileiro (PBR) is in partnership with Cuba's government-owned oil company. The stock has a P/E of 10.

Repsol YPF SA (REP) is a Spanish oil and gas company with significant operations in Argentina.. They are drilling offshore Cuba for oil. The stock has a P/E of 7.5, and a PEG of 1.7.

Stocks in other countries may participate in the growth of Cuba, including Mexico, Colombia, Brazil and Argentina.

Author owns CGAR.PK and PBR.


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