Monday, May 01, 2006

Blog of the Week: Berkshire Ruminations

Should we try to play ethanol?

Yes. But be careful. Once it becomes widely known how easily this nation can switch away from gasoline and toward ethanol, plenty of traders will be eager to snatch up every small supplier or research firm with any connection to the fuel. This approach is a crap shoot and very unwise. The best approach, I feel, is to invest in an established, profitable company that is currently trading at a reasonable price. And I’ll be darned if there isn’t one sitting right in front of us. It’s called Archer Daniels Midland.

What prompted this post of mine is an article a friend of mine told me about by know-it-all trend maven Jim Cramer. Apparently Cramer’s rant of choice this morning was how foolish buying anything and everything ethanol can be. Seems like a legitimate take, but then he goes on to dismiss ADM as becoming “such a momentum play it makes a mockery of the fundamentals.” Mockery of fundamentals? Seems like a little bit of a stretch for a company selling at 23 times ttm earnings and less than three times book value. So, as if you need any convincing that Cramer hasn’t fully thought an idea through, let me explain why this is not true.

Ethanol is, admittedly, not what ADM has traditionally produced...

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