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  • Ecopetrol's Second Quarter Results Indicate A Disappointing Year Ahead For Investors [View article]
    I agree it is what I enjoy about Argentina. It is very similar in Colombia.
    Aug 3 08:07 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Ecopetrol's Second Quarter Results Indicate A Disappointing Year Ahead For Investors [View article]
    Thanks for the insight, will keep that in mind. I am quite intrigued by the current situation in Argentina so will press ahead with some additional articles.
    Aug 2 04:54 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Ecopetrol's Second Quarter Results Indicate A Disappointing Year Ahead For Investors [View article]
    Thanks, that was my take on it as well, just when researching another article on Colombia I found some interesting stats on Argentina around credit ratios, savings etc, which show that something is certainly amiss down there. I see the official rate for the peso is around 4.5 but I've heard that you can get around 7 to the dollar on the unofficial market? When I was in Argentina last year the official rate then was around 4 and I could get a better rate through unofficial channels.
    Aug 2 04:42 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Ecopetrol's Second Quarter Results Indicate A Disappointing Year Ahead For Investors [View article]
    Have a good time in Argentina, wish I was down there at the moment. Overall I prefer Argentine wine to Chilean wine, it seems fruitier with deeper more complex flavors plus it is such good value in Argentina. Although I haven't drunk a lot of Chilean wine so will have to add that to my to do list.

    Now is probably not the best time to be in Colombia as everything is unsettled with the escalation of guerilla activity and greater economic pressures but hopefully things will improve.

    A quick question what are your views on Argentine banks? I am considering writing a piece on them and taking a deeper look at the Argentine finance sector for investment opportunities. I know that the Argentine banking sector is quite volatile and unsettled at the moment and Chile is my first preference followed by Colombia, but any thoughts?
    Aug 2 04:06 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Ecopetrol's Second Quarter Results Indicate A Disappointing Year Ahead For Investors [View article]
    iadops thank you for the kind comments! I really enjoy writing about Latin America particularly South America and using the opportunity that Seeking Alpha gives me to educate investors about the region. I find that many investors who haven't lived and worked in the region or aren't from the region take a somewhat simplistic view of how business and investing works, particularly on issues such as corruption and business culture.

    This has seen many investors make simplistic assumptions such as Brazil equals growth, Argentina equals statist corruption or Colombia equals terrorism, violence and narco-trafficking that sees them miss out on investment opportunities or make poor and uninformed investment choices that lead to losses. Plus I also believe that many investors don't understand that the cultures of each country in the region are different and this influences how business and politics are conducted.

    I haven't been to Argentina for sometime but Buenos Aires despite its reputation, left me with fond memories and I am hoping to return after Christmas. I also want to get to Mendoza and northern Argentina for the wine. Unfortunately in Colombia wine is heavily taxed and very expensive and not very popular so you have a relatively limited choice and when I was last in Argentina I developed a passion for Argentina wine.
    Aug 2 03:03 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Ecopetrol's Second Quarter Results Indicate A Disappointing Year Ahead For Investors [View article]
    bsorge thank you for the comments. There is more to come, I am working on an article about the recent cut to the Colombian official interest rate and then an update on the Colombian oil industry with a focus on the Canadian companies operating here. There is also an article in the pipeline on Colombian banks just waiting for Bancolombia to release their 2Q 2012 results. If you have any specific companies or topics in either Colombia or South America in general covered please let me know.
    Aug 1 11:41 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Gafisa: A Speculative Play On Brazilian Residential Property [View article]
    ACO I can add that to the list I have been wanting to take a closer look at the Brazilian utilities sector for some time.
    Jul 31 07:35 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Telefonica: A Compelling Investment Or Value Trap? [View article]
    davdws, thank you for the comment. The dividend was cut last week and while the company claims it will be reinstated in 2013 I don't believe that it will. At this stage the looming problem is the debt issue and to date there has been very little information given to the market o this. I am in the process of putting together an update based on the 2Q 2012 results.
    Jul 30 07:41 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Arcos Dorados: A Not So Golden Investment Opportunity [View article]
    Cogitator thank you for the comments. I don't believe that over the long-term Arcos Dorados' prospects are particularly strong. Initially the company will experience strong growth because of the low penetration of the McDonald's brand in the region, plus the Olympics and FIFA World Cup will give the company a significant boost, but over the long-term unless they make their pricing more affordable the majority of people in the region can't afford to eat there. I think that if you want to invest in McDonald's you can't do better than the original.
    Jul 30 07:05 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Gafisa: A Speculative Play On Brazilian Residential Property [View article]
    Investor612 thank you for the comments. Admittedly Gafisa is a speculative play with some risk for investors. I have been trying to identify investment ideas for readers because the majority of my articles prior to this one have been on the doom and gloom side lately.

    I have also put Corpbanca in the queue and will hopefully have an article published later this week or early next week. Looking forward to your comments on that article.
    Jul 30 12:26 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Gafisa: A Speculative Play On Brazilian Residential Property [View article]
    Trade in Mexico thank you for the comments. I am not sure if it will head much lower, it bounced at the end of last week, but the 1H 2012 financials will be the key factor. Interestingly I have seen a number of analysts put a target of around $4 on the stock with Itau Unibanco saying the company is back on track but because of the depressed housing market and the macro issues you have referred to there are better opportunities for investors. I am not sure where those opportunities are because besides utilities the Brazilian market has taken a hammering.
    Jul 28 07:31 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Banco Santander: Paying The Price For Its Association With Spain [View article]
    Barbara thank you for the update. I relied upon ECB reports of holdings at the time of writing the article and these were from Dec 011. Overall it is good to see the sovereign debt exposures fall. Overall I still believe that Banco Santander respresents an opportunity albeit high risk and long term.
    Jul 27 08:53 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Telefonica: A Compelling Investment Or Value Trap? [View article]
    Viktor thank you for the feedback. I am in the process of pulling together an update on Telefonica which I hope will be published early next week. I also know another Seeking Alpha author is taking a closer look at the debt issue.

    I am always reticent to give direct advice to readers as I am not aware of their personal circumstances or their financial and lifestyle goals nor how their portfolio is constructed, so if you wanted to cut and run that is a decision you would need to make based on your own due diligence. But it maybe worth waiting to see what the updated articles reveal. The other factor is that the bull case for Telefonica has always been made on the assumption that it is a long-term investment so it maybe worth keeping that in mind.
    Jul 26 11:22 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Telefonica: A Compelling Investment Or Value Trap? [View article]
    Thank you for the comments. I have read through the Q2 figures and I need some time to digest them and finish some work on other updates but the basics for Q2 are:
    - OIBDA up 5%
    - Capex up by 14%
    - Revenue steady down by 2%, though the biggest drop in revenue was Latam with Brazil.

    Overall I believe the numbers are better than expected but there is a long way to go yet. There are have been some more articles making the bull case on Seeking Alpha on the back of those figures http://bit.ly/N0vSM9 . I don't subscribe to the bull case because everyone is taking quite simplistic view that Latam will create growth, yet it's likely that Brazil's GDP growth for 2012 will be less than 2% and for 2013 around 2-3% (which I think is optimistic).

    I also note a comment above talking about smart phone usage in Latam and how this will drive growth for Telefonica. The majority of Telefonica's connections are in the prepaid market in the region, which isn't conducive to smartphone use. Smart phones are virtually unheard of in the region.
    The majority of capex in the region is going to build basic infrastructure to support the roll out of standard wireless services as much of that infrastructure doesn't exist in the region.

    An anecdotal observation I don't know anyone who has a smart phone in Colombia and other than foreigners I have never seen anyone with a smart phone.
    Jul 26 07:51 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Telefonica: A Compelling Investment Or Value Trap? [View article]
    northhills for the Telefonica to generate that OIBDA it has to spend $10B of capex and with Latam economies in particular Brazil slowing the revenue that capex is generating is diminishing. The company has also dropped its capex significant;y so I feel that OIBDA will drop and after capex be less than half of that figure. I am also worried by the fact that they still ahven't made any progress on their asset sales.

    Cancelling the dividend while sending a negative signal to the market isn't going to make a huge difference because only around 30% of it was for cash.

    The company still has $10B in debt to roll over and in the current environment that is going to be next to impossible. I believe there is more bad news to come yet and that may include selling off its Brazilian ops.

    I am also getting concerned that the company is going to break through the $10 per share barrier which would be a big psychological blow for investors and may see it plummet to the point where creditors start calling in debt for breaches of debt covenants and that I believe will be the end game. Let's hope it doesn't reach that point.
    Jul 25 07:21 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
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