As of this writing, the Olympic medal count over in Torino, Italy, shows Norway leading the world with seven medals.

And as luck would have it, I've found a total of seven investable Norwegian companies that have listed their American Depositary Receipts on U.S. stock exchanges. So in the spirit of last week's twin columns:

let's dive right in and see how this Winter Olympic powerhouse fares in the field of corporate competition. In other words, it's time once again to:

Get to know a country
Norway has now racked up seven medals as of this writing -- three bronzes, three silvers, and a gold. Similarly, as I run down the list of ADRs that Norway has to offer U.S. investors, I'll categorize them according to their medal prospects. Today, we'll focus on the bronze medalists, if you will. Tomorrow, we'll examine the silvers and the gold.

Of course, by then, I suspect Norway will have already added significantly to its medal count. But we, on the other hand, will have run out of companies. Hey, Olympic powerhouse or no, the country's just not that big, and the corporate pickings are a little slim.

So enjoy it while it lasts, as we examine our three Nordic bronze medalists. First up .

Norsk Hydro
(Level III ADR) 1 ADR = 1 Common Share

Norsk (NYSE:NHY) is a bid of an odd corporate bird. The company operates in two main lines of business: oil (exploration and production) and aluminum (manufacturing).

Although Norway has become an oil production powerhouse in its own right, Norsk doesn't limit its activities to its home turf (which, by the way, isn't really "turf," as it's mostly underwater on the Norwegian continental shelf). Norsk also develops hydrocarbon deposits as close by as Russia and as far away as Canada, Angola, and Libya. The company claims proven reserves in excess of 1.4 billion barrels of oil equivalent.

Knowing this allows an investor to compare Norsk to its competitors in one of two ways: price-to-earnings -- and the several variations thereon -- or price-to-barrels. So, for example, on one hand you can argue that Norsk is overpriced because it has a 12.7 trailing P/E, whereas rival BP (NYSE:BP) sells for just 10.7 times trailing earnings. The disparity is even more glaring in light of analyst expectations that BP will grow its earnings more than twice as fast as Nordic over the next few years. But you can also say that Norsk looks overpriced on the basis of its reserves being priced at $20.10 per barrel versus BP's $15.80 per barrel.

Although it's true that Norsk gets most of its revenues from its aluminum division, which competes with Alcoa (NYSE:AA) and Alcan (NYSE:AL), Norsk's oil arm produces 98% of its profits. From that perspective, even with Norsk trading at a discount to Alcoa and Alcan, I have to conclude that the firm as a whole looks expensive in comparison to the alternatives. Give this one a bronze medal at best.

(Level II ADR) 1 ADR = 1 Common Share

Here's a business combo you don't see too often: chemicals storage and fishing. Hmm. Even if you hadn't heard the warnings about eating tuna before, this unhealthy melding of business lines might get you to thinking twice about it.

Stolt-Nielsen (NASDAQ:SNSA) has two primary divisions. The first stores and transports bulk liquid chemicals, acids, and other specialty liquids in its fleet of more than 130 tankers. The second division fishes for turbot, tuna, halibut, sturgeon, and tilapia -- presumably, hopefully, using separate ships.

The firm's ADRs trade in the U.S. for just four times trailing earnings, but don't get too excited about that. Some 74% of those profits came from discontinued operations, artificially depressing the P/E, which, incidentally, hasn't been this low since 1997. Moreover, Stolt-Nielsen's cargo load of profits over the past year did little more than offset its losses from the previous five years of operations. Long story short, this ship has some serious barnacle issues. Give it more than the usual once-over before boarding.


(Level II ADR) 1 ADR = 1 Common Share

Awarding Smedvig (NYSE:SMVa) even a bronze medal is a stretch. It's not easy to locate information about the company; its write-up on Yahoo! Finance is quite limited. But through Capital IQ, I was able to learn that the company operates oil-drilling platforms in the Norwegian sector of the North Sea, as well as off the coasts of Thailand, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Congo, and Mauritania.

With a market capitalization of $2.4 billion but only $36 million in trailing net profits, the company trades for roughly 68 times trailing earnings. But for less than that price, you can buy shares of a larger U.S. firm like Transocean (NYSE:RIG) or Globalsantafe (NYSE:GSF), benefit from the huge potential growth projected for this industry (45% and 50%, respectively), and get easier access to information on your investment. Sometimes it just seems smarter to invest at home.

Underwhelmed by these three prospects? So am I. But tune in again tomorrow, and we'll see whether we can't find some better values among the silver- and gold-medal contenders. Until then, enjoy the real Olympic Games, and Fool on!

Fool contributor Rich Smith does not own shares of any company named above. The Motley Fool's disclosure policy stands alone on the gold medal platform.