The best trading ideas> come not from a newsletter or TV tipster, but from the existing securities already in your portfolio. Stocks are like animals they tend to travel in packs based around a particular sector or theme. So when a previously dormant holding starts to lead, it s well advised to try and maximize that exposure.
This summer I profiled, one of Japan s large multinational trading firms known as sogo shosha.
The dominant intermediaries for two-thirds of the country s imports and half their exports, companies like Mitsui trade in raw materials, distribute goods and coordinate large construction and property projects world-wide.
They are also akin to private equity and infrastructure investors, holding interests in a wide range of logistics, food, energy and industry assets around the globe. Mitsui & Co., for example, owns a steel processing plant in Thailand, copper mines in Chile, freight-car leasing in Brazil, salt manufacturing in Australia, solar battery sales in the United States and a 24-hour TV shopping channel in Japan.
Still, with shares up more than 10%, my interest in expanding the trade has been piqued especially since it s not (yet) a theme one hears mentioned along with Apple (AAPL),
Mitsui & Co. (MITSY) - 5 years
Averaging a mere 5,000 shares a day, Mitsui barely trades on the Nasdaq, an encouraging sign that the investment herd has yet to gallop in. None of the other soga shosha are listed on major exchanges in the U.S., however, another characteristic I actually interpret as a bullish sign.
The most promising trades are often the most difficult ones to buy. Before SPDR Gold Trust (GLD)
Most Japanese trading houses can be bought or sold on the pink sheets, a thinly traded alternative available through most discount and full-service brokers. Be forewarned, however: Because volumes are low and pricing is inefficient, however, execution can be expensive.
Sumitomo Corporation is one of Japan s mega-caps, with global interests in steel pipes in the United Arab Emirates, automotive parts in Sweden, power generation in Vietnam and movie theaters in Australia. The stock has recently begun to break through its 2009 highs.
Sumitomo Corporation (SSUMF) 5 years>
) was originally founded as a kimono store in 1858 before decades of expansion, mergers and acquisitions have built it into one of the world s largest companies. The firm boasts a staggering 1,027 subsidiaries operating in over 80 countries, including a uniform manufacturer in China, construction in South Africa, commercial aircraft leasing in the Netherlands, canned tuna in Indonesia and a
channel in Japan.
Marubeni boats a wide assortment of assets including cattle feeding operations in Australia, ship charter in Liberia, power generation repair in Atlanta and conveyer belts in British Columbia. Just this week the company bid to build a 2,000 megawatt power plant in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Marubeni (MARUF) 5 years>
There is significant execution risk in trading on the pink sheets, making plays like this only appropriate for more sophisticated and well-capitalized investors. This time, however, it might be worth it.
You ll note that most of charts look alike, reinforcing the notion that, in markets, birds of a feather flock together. The highest probability trades are those in which an entire theme is participating.
To that end, and with the Nikkei 225 now eclipsing new 15-month highs, I m now expanding my existing holdings in Mitsui as well as in these similar yet attractively hard to reach firms that few American investors even know exist.
At the time of writing Hoenig s fund owned shares in many of the firms mentioned.>