OMV: The Largest Oil Company You've Never Heard Of

If you know Austria's OMV (Other OTC: OMVKY.PK), you're either an amazingly diligent investor or you have some sort of ties to Central Europe. For while this company is the leading oil and gas operator in Central Europe, it seems all but unknown to most folks on this side of the world.

Well, known or not, OMV is benefiting from the same basic math as companies like ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM  ) , ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP  ) , and Total (NYSE: TOT  ) -- it's good to be in the oil and gas business when the prices of oil and gas are high. In the second quarter, OMV reported that revenue rose 21%, adjusted EBIT rose 13%, and net income rose about 19%.

Repeating a not-uncommon story around the oil patch, OMV benefited from the offsetting effect of higher energy prices on lower production. Production dropped about 5% this quarter, due mostly to shortfalls from Romania, but oil realizations were 29% higher. And like other energy companies, OMV is seeing a dichotomy by business as well -- the exploration and production operations are growing nicely, while the refining business didn't do very well this time around.

While the basics of OMV's performance might be fairly common, this is not quite a run-of-the-mill energy company. With the acquisition of Romania's Petrom, the company has significantly expanded its reserve base but has also become a restructuring story as management works to pare down Petrom's bloated cost structure. What's more, by acquiring a stake in a Turkish company, OMV has also added this high-potential country to its operating portfolio.

OMV has good experience dealing with mature fields and has typically generated pretty good returns on capital. That said, management has made some odd decisions in the past, including an ill-fated attempt to acquire Verbund, an Austrian utility that would have resulted in a dual-CEO management structure. And since this company will almost certainly need to do additional deals in the future, that lapse in judgment is a valid cause for concern.

OMV is not a stock that's right for everybody and some investors will have difficulty in not only buying and tracking the stock, but in following company news releases as well. That said, for investors not content with domestic options like Anadarko (NYSE: APC  ) or Ultra Petroleum (AMEX: UPL  ) and craving something different, OMV might be worth a look.

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Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).


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