NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The Russian ruble has lost over 30% to the U.S. dollar over the last six months. Falling oil prices and continued economic sanctions from the U.S. and Europe have weakened Russia's currency. With uncertainty and panic selling comes great opportunity.
Winston Churchill famously said, "Never let a good crisis go to waste". It is time you take a look at these two Russian stocks with dividend yields over 10%. Both stocks are publicly traded in the U.S. and pay dividends in U.S. dollars. One has an eye-popping yield of 14.5%, while the other has a yield of over 11%. The two stocks below are not the low-risk, high quality businesses that are normally covered. Instead, they offer high potential returns and exceptional dividend yields, but come with serious risks.
CTC Media (CTCM)
CTC Media is one of Russia's leading television networks. The company's stock is currently yielding about 14.5%. You don't have to go hunting through the pink sheets to find information on CTC Media; the company's stock is publicly traded on Nasdaq. It is down nearly 65% for the year to date.
CTC Media operates three Russian television stations and one Kazakh station. The company generates virtually all of its revenue and profit from advertising. In total, CTC Media controls approximately 17% of total Russian television advertising market share. The company was founded in 1989 and has paid increasing dividends from 2012 to now.
CTC Media is trading at an absurdly low price-to-earnings ratio of 5.6. Other independent television broadcasters trade for a substantially higher price-to-earnings ratio than CTC media:
- Gray Television (GTN) -- price-to-earnings ratio of 28.8
- Scripps Networks (SNI) -- price-to-earnings ratio of 21.6
- AMC Networks (AMCX) -- price-to-earnings ratio of 20.5
CTC Media is trading at a price-to-earnings ratio of about one quarter of its U.S. counterparts. CTC Media has upside of up to 400% if fears about the Russian economy subside. CTCM has a price-to-earnings ratio hovering around 20 as late as mid 2013; there is historical precedence for CTC Media to trade at a price-to-earnings ratio around 20. Investors who load up on this stock now could see gains of 300% to 400% percent. CTC Media has grown operating income before depreciation at about 16% a year over the last decade.
Of course, CTC Media is not without risks. The company generates its revenue in rubles. As a result, it is exposed to currency fluctuations. This risk factor should not reduce the company's price by three to four times, however.
Additionally, CTC Media shareholders could be forced to sell their shares in the next few years. A new Russian law could limit foreign ownership of Russian media companies to 25%. The company's current ownership structure is: 39% Modern Times (MTG) , a Swedish media conglomerate; 36% floated on Nasdaq; 25% owned by Russian investment group Telcrest. If the law passes, Modern Times Group and U.S. shareholders will be forced to liquidate much of their position.
Mobile Telesytems (MBT)
Mobile Telesystems is a Russian telecommunications provider focused on voice and data, Internet access, and pay TV. The company has a market cap of $6.4 billion. All of its operations occur in Russia and Ukraine. Mobile Telesystems' stock has taken a beating in recent months. In total Mobile Telesystems stock is down over 50% in just the last quarter. The precipitous decline in the company's stock has created in interesting opportunity for enterprising investors.
Mobile Telesystems stock currently has a dividend yield of over 11% and a price-to-earnings ratio of just 6.5. Telecommunications companies like China Mobile (CHL) , T-Mobile (TMUS) and AT&T (T) all have price-to-earnings ratios above 10. Mobile Telesytems appears to have upside of about 100% based on its massive stock declines over the last quarter and its price-to-earnings ratio compared to its peers.
The company has managed to grow operating income before depreciation and ammoritization by 6.4% over the last year. Mobile Telesytems has paid fairly stable dividends of between 14 and 21 rubles (28 cents to 42 cents at current conversion rate) per share since 2007. The company generates fairly stable cash flows from its utility-like telecommunications business. Its shares are down 61% for the year to date.
Mobile Telesystems stock comes with significant risk. In addition to the political and economic turmoil that Russia is currently embroiled in, Mobile Telesystems has significant firm specific risk. Russian conglomerate Sistema owns 53.46% of Mobile Telesystems. Sistema Chairman Vladimir Yevtushenkov was recently placed under house arrest in Russia. The country's corruption issues could negatively impact shareholders of Mobile Telesystems through its connection to Sistema.
High Risk, High Reward
The two investments above come with high risk and high reward. I believe CTC Media offers investors lower risk than Mobile Telesystems. The political risk surrounding CTC Media is more likely to result in a favorable outcome for shareholders as it opens the company up to potential shareholder buyouts or takeover opportunities. Mobile Telesystems political risks are more uncertain and potentially more serious.
With either company, investors get paid to wait; both stocks have dividend yields over 11%. If the Russian ruble crisis improves or if political risk abates for either of these stocks, investors will see strong gains.