If you've followed international stocks over the past few years, you've surely noticed a trend: foreign companies delisting their stocks from major U.S. exchanges.
Well-known foreign companies such as British Airways, Adecco, and Fiat either said they will leave in the near future or left the New York Stock Exchange last year.
And we can expect this flight from New York to continue.
Nothing personal, it's just business
Why, you ask? Put simply, the extra costs of following Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) and various exchange regulations, as well as anemic trading volumes on U.S. exchanges, often outweigh the benefits for these companies.
Although other large companies have packed their bags, you're unlikely to see large foreign companies with high daily trading volume -- think PetroChina (NYSE: PTR ) and ICICI Bank (NYSE: IBN ) -- leaving Wall Street anytime soon. In these cases, it's often more cost-effective and better for public relations to be listed in the States.
The good news is that you can still gain access to foreign companies that have delisted their shares. You can pick them up on the Pink Sheets.
Oh, the humanity!
The Fool typically discourages investors from patrolling the Pink Sheets, but using them to purchase quality foreign shares is an exception.
Even though companies find it costly to follow SOX and other U.S. exchange regulations, we shouldn't forget that those regulations were designed largely to protect shareholder interests, by requiring greater disclosure and adherence to U.S. GAAP. In fact, it can be much more difficult to interpret financial statements and estimate a valuation for companies not listed on a U.S. exchange.
To help you separate the wheat from the chaff, each week we'll take a look at a top-rated foreign company trading on the Pink Sheets, and we'll see how our 92,000-plus investors participating in Motley Fool CAPS, the Fool's free investing community, have rated it.
This week, we'll take a look at a $30 billion Norwegian telecom that could entice dividend-minded investors with a 2.7% yield.
Tell me about it
Just like domestic telecoms such as Verizon (NYSE: VZ ) and AT&T (NYSE: T ) , Telenor ASA (OTC BB: TELNY.PK) is moving from primarily fixed-line operations to expanding its mobile communications footprint, which now consists of 12 markets in Europe and Asia, making it the seventh-largest mobile operator in the world. Telenor's mobile services seem to be striking a chord in Asia. In the fourth quarter, for instance, it added 2 million mobile subscriptions in Pakistan and another 900,000 in Thailand through its investments there.
Moreover, Telenor already has something that the aforementioned U.S. telecoms wished they had -- it's the largest provider of TV services in the Nordic region, offering both satellite and cable to most of its customers. For this segment, revenue has increased 266% since December 2001.
Despite these promising figures, Telenor shares are now 30% off their 52-week high. Part of the reason could be that the broader Norwegian market, as gauged by the Oslo Exchange, is down 24% from its 52-week high. Most recently, however, Telenor shares slipped further after a report that its Ukrainian investment, Kyivstar, lost a handful of subscribers last month. The company played down these results as a short-term fluctuation that is bound to correct itself.
With Telenor shares trading at just nine times trailing earnings, is now the time to pick up shares at a discount? CAPS investors seem to think so -- 47 of the 48 players who have rated Telenor believe it will outperform the S&P 500.
Unfortunately, most Telenor bulls have neglected to explain exactly why they think it is a great stock. This pitch from aguywhoposts, for instance, is from December 2006, and while it is a bit dusty, it still offers some valuable insights:
This company is as entrepreneurial as they come. They make any Baby Bell you can name look like a stodgy utility stock. Wait, they ARE stodgy utility stocks ... Spectacular growth in revenues.
The player is right on all accounts. In addition, most of Telenor's growth has come since 2002, all that time under the leadership of CEO Jon Fredrik Baksaas. When you consider Telenor's nice dividend, strong revenue growth, and solid position in emerging Asian and European markets, this is a telecom worth further research.
What do you think about Telenor -- or any other stock, for that matter? Make your voice heard on Motley Fool CAPS today. It's 100% free to participate.