By Glen BradfordI became a peak-oil believer this year after reviewing the facts. My point estimate is early 2012, when everyone realizes we are in descent mode. For those keeping track, the top started in 2004. That said, energy costs are going to rise. Also, with global governments printing record amounts of money and future inflation mostly unavoidable, lots of investors are seeking protection in gold. I'd like gold if I didn't think I could get higher returns elsewhere. So, I'm looking into oil companies located in China, with its marginal competitive advantage of lower production costs.
Gushan Environmental Energy ( GU) is a company that was recommended to me when I polled my readers about peak-oil. Since oil prices have come off their highs, the price of biodiesel has also come down significantly, crushing the profit margins of Gushan and sending the company into the red. The stock price has followed suit and dropped from around $15 to around a 52-week low of 70 cents, where it rests now.Note that in the three years 2006-2008, it averaged around $275M RMB or $40M USD in profits on increasing revenues. It currently trades at a $121M market cap, assuming 166M FD shares. If oil prices return to their recent highs, I believe that this could be one of those turnaround plays you wish you knew about. China Petroleum & Chemical ( SNP) has also experienced the effects of lower petroleum prices, but is still operating well in the black. It's crazy to me that you can have a multi-billion dollar company trading at such a steep discount to its intrinsic value. I believe that if you factor out the oil price spike of 2008, you've got a growing company priced for no growth. Granted, the growth rate isn't huge, but that should be offset by the sheer size of the company. Larger companies have a tendency to hover closer to their intrinsic valuations than micro-caps.
I've updated my estimates for a company I've covered several times before, Longwei Petroleum ( LPH). When you break it all down, my numbers come out to non-GAAP 85 cents EPS in FY2011, which started 1.5 months ago. I'm also forecasting enough cash on the balance sheet to finance potential expansion of similar facilities for a cost around $50M by mid-October -- even without the warrants.There is a widely misconceived notion that there are value stocks and there are growth stocks. That's entirely the wrong idea. The value of future discounted cash flows is a function of the company's growth rate. Along the same lines, the intrinsic valuation of a company is a function of its future perceived discounted cash flows. All other things equal, a growing company should have a higher valuation than a company that isn't growing. If you're smart, you'll blow this misnomer out of the water with me and buy growth companies at cheap valuations. Growth also protects you against loss, because if the stock price goes against you and the company is still growing and you bought at a cheap valuation, eventually the stock price will catch up to that cheap valuation and you'll be ahead again. Lastly, if you follow me, I encourage you to add Zack Buckley to your reading list at least for the next couple months as he is traveling through China visiting a majority of my favorite companies. Bradford and his investors were long LPH at the time of publication.