With more than 400,000 employees -- about four times as many as BP
Gazprom rakes in some serious rubles. Sales for the quarter rose over 4% to R612 billion ($24.4 billion), and the bottom line came in 14% higher at R217 billion ($8.7 billion). That 35% net margin blows away even other emerging-market integrated giants like PetroChina
Given the firm's strong state backing, I would be more comfortable owning Gazprom than lukewarm Lukoil. Still, even with its gazillion feet of gas in the ground, Gazprom has badly lagged the returns of the Chinese and Brazilian firms mentioned earlier. While I find Gazprom's margins enviable, I don't see shareholders being compensated adequately for the risk of holding this name. My feelings about this stock are perhaps best summarized by the Russian proverb, "One would like to eat fish but would not like to get into the water."