June 23, 2008
I guess I wasn't the only one to view Mr. Market's recent thrashing of Corn Products International (NYSE: CPO ) as a buying opportunity. Less than two weeks later, agro-bruiser Bunge (NYSE: BG ) has stepped in with a $56-per-share offer for the corn refiner.
Let's look back to the corn crunch that set off the share-price declines of everyone from Corn Products to Archer Daniels Midland (NYSE: ADM ) to VeraSun Energy (NYSE: VSE ) . The flooding in Iowa and the rest of the Corn Belt had just prompted analysts from Citigroup (NYSE: C ) , Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS ) , and elsewhere to dish out downgrades. There was a kernel of rationality in that response, but BMO's downgrade of Corn Products was pretty puzzling. Even the most cursory look at Corn Products reveals a company that's well hedged against a corn-price catastrophe. I wonder what that particular analyst was smoking in his corn pipe.
Granted, the fellow cut his target price to only $48, and the price was beaten down far below that figure. The downgrade still didn't help the rush to the exits. It did help my Motley Fool CAPS score, though, since I rated the company to outperform on the day of the plunge. If anyone out there pulled a similar coup with real dollars, congratulations -- you probably landed a return of 15%-20% in just a few trading sessions.
This is exactly the sort of nonsense that goes on when cool-headedness hits the road and animal spirits swoop in. The bright side to this episode is that if you're able to step back and assess such stormy situations dispassionately, you can profit big-time. In this case, you had the whole weekend to mull over Corn Products' exposure, and even a few days more for good measure. That whole "temperament" thing really works after all!