Thursday, July 24, 2008

Mechel (MTL) Down 20% on Putin's Comments

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We sold out of Mechel (MTL) completely yesterday in the $37.50s despite loving the theme/story. [Closing Mechel]

It just hit $28s - as I wrote; the Russian government appeared to be a game changer which is a shame. Today some comments out by Putin.
  • New York-listed shares in Russian steel maker and coal miner Mechel (MTL.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) fell over 20 percent on Thursday after Prime Minister Vladimir Putin criticised its pricing policies.
  • Putin, addressing a meeting of Russian steel makers, accused Mechel of selling raw materials in the domestic market at double the price of its exports.
  • "I'm asking the federal anti-monopoly service to pay special attention to this problem," Putin said.
  • "And maybe even the investigative committee of Prosecutor Generals Office"
  • "This (Mechel) was a benchmark stock for the sector, but now people are remembering what happens here when you come into conflict with the government," said Pavel Koryshev, trader at East Kommerts investment group in Moscow.
  • Traders were quick to draw comparisons with Putin's once sharp criticism of oil firm YUKOS, which was bankrupt under a huge back tax bill. (and I believe their CEO is still in jail)
  • "People are getting out of Russia. Putin had some very angry comments directed straight at the company and it is quite rare for Putin to specifically single out one company," he said.
It might be a great buy here in the upper $20s. But frankly I cannot quantify the risk anymore- I don't know about you, but I don't want to be subject to the 'special attention' of Putin. For someone with a 5 year horizon these are probably some incredible prices. But as I wrote yesterday I have no idea what the next few weeks or months will bring. The conservative stance I take every day coming "into work" managing the fund, did work out in this case.

I'll repeat this for newer readers - when you begin in the markets you wake up every morning asking "How can I make the most money today?" The longer you stick around the more you wake up every morning ask "How can I avoid losing the most money today?" Those who continue to only ask the former question, will be eliminated from the markets (their capital will be destroyed) in due time. Just my belief... and it does not mean we won't lose money along the way either. But without capital you have nothing.

Frankly this move yesterday in MTL was just good timing - we could of been destroyed just as easily if this comment came out 24 hours earlier. *wave rabbit's foot*

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