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 announced for the near future or implemented their departures from the NYSE 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.
But although other large companies have packed their bags, you're unlikely to see large foreign companies with high daily trading volume -- think Sohu.com
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 86,000-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 $10 billion Spanish alternative energy company that has somehow flown under the radar of most U.S. investors.
Ropin' the wind
We've heard a ton about solar energy stocks like Evergreen Solar
Spain-based Gamesa Tecnologica (OTC BB: GCTAF.PK) primarily builds wind turbines and develops and operates wind farms across the globe, including China, Europe, and the United States. And unlike other alternative energy companies, Gamesa has generated a profit -- yes, a profit -- each year since it was listed on the Spanish CATS Exchange in 2000; revenue has also nearly quadrupled during that period.
Here in the United States, wind power provides less than 1% of our energy, yet a 2007 Yale study found that 90% of Americans support building more wind farms. So the opportunity for wind power is tremendous, especially if it gains political support.
And that may come to pass. In fact, Sen. Barack Obama, who has been a longtime supporter of wind energy, is visiting a Gamesa plant in the Philadelphia area today. Moreover, this past November, former president George H.W. Bush installed a wind turbine on his Kennebunkport, Maine, home.
Political obstacles remain, however, and even beyond that, mainstream acceptance of wind energy faces more aesthetic, audible, and economic challenges from neighbors and residents. For instance, the wind turbines need to be at least 30 feet above the tree line, they make noise, and the cost for the average family could run as much as $40,000.
With China opening their market and a thirst for inexpensive power for about 5 billion customers, I believe Gamesa will power through the market with substantial growth and hold steady for years to come. They have already shown rapid increase in international sales. A well managed company. They have concentrated on debt management as well as securing respectable assets and capital in order to secure the strength and longevity of this company.
The mainstream acceptance of wind energy, like most alternative energy sources, is unclear at this point, but Gamesa appears well-positioned to capitalize on any growth in global wind energy demand. Whether wind energy takes off or peters out, it won't be a smooth ride with this stock, so volatility-adverse investors may want to take a pass on this one.
What do you think about Gamesa -- or any other stock, for that matter? Make your voice heard on Motley Fool CAPS today. It's 100% free to participate.
Fool contributor Todd Wenning is ranked No. 467 out of more than 86,000 investors participating in CAPS. He does not own shares of any company mentioned. SunTech Power is a Rule Breakers choice. The Fool's disclosure policy has a seven-star rating.