My Foolish colleague Dan Dzombak recently published a timely and brilliant article on the secret to commodities investing. As Dan rightly pointed out, the commodity that's currently under-valued is natural gas, and I wouldn't be surprised if, in a few years from now, it starts getting the attention that it truly deserves.
With that larger concept in mind, let's take a look at one company that is doing special things in the gas sector: GMX Resources
We know that gas producers are staring at an ugly market for their product right now and true-to-form GMX Resources reported a net loss of $54.5 million in the first quarter this year, compared to a net profit of $3.8 million the year earlier quarter. This loss can be attributed largely to a $48 million accounting impairment of natural gas assets. Strong downward movements in natural gas prices have catalyzed this impairment on GMX's rather undiversified books. Indeed, natural gas happens to represent 92% of the company's total production. Some might be scared off by this fact, but this is exactly what makes me want to take a look at this stock now.
What goes down ...
Total production in the quarter actually rose to 6.0 billion cubic feet equivalent (Bcfe) from 3.2 Bcfe in the first quarter of 2010. Natural gas production grew by 123%. But with natural gas sales realizing only $4.47 per thousand cubic feet on an average, versus $6.14 a year back, average sales prices took a beating. However, the sheer volume of production going up made sure that total revenues grew by 38%. If and when we see a secular turnaround in these prices, I think we're going to see much, much better results.
The real deal
What impresses me most is the total cost of production at GMX which stands at $3.59/Mcfe, when natural gas is trading at $4.25/Mcf. As Dan noted, to own a commodity when its cost of production is below the trading value is the catch, and GMX fits the bill perfectly even during a hellish market for gas itself. Two other names that fit this bill as well include Ultra Petroleum
Foolish bottom line
While short-term demand for natural gas is cyclical in nature, its long-term demand will only see a growth -- demand primarily fuelled by higher electricity generation, coupled with increased residential and commercial consumption. With time, GMX has the ability to perform far better than what its current bottom-line reflects. It takes a lot of Foolishness to venture into a commodity which the crowd does not want to own. In fact, Foolish investors should pay special attention to this stock.
Fool contributor Isac Simon does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool owns shares of Ultra Petroleum. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended writing puts in Southwestern Energy. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.