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 Aluminum Corp. of China
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 an $80 billion Spanish utilities company that could entice any dividend-minded investor with its juicy 6.8% yield.
Tell me about it
Based in Bilbao, Spain, Iberdrola (OTC BB: IBDRY.PK) already dominates the Spanish electric and gas utility field, and now it has its sights set on international expansion. In late 2006, it purchased Scottish Power, then the U.K.'s fifth-largest utility, for $22.5 billion. The acquisition gave Iberdrola exposure not only to the U.K. market, but also to Scottish Power's operations in Canada and America.
That bet seems to be paying off. In November, Iberdrola announced that the Scottish Power assets helped lift electricity output more than 34% last year.
In addition to its generation and distribution of gas and electricity, Iberdrola is also the world's largest wind energy producer. If wind energy gains mainstream acceptance, and it's looking more likely that it will, Iberdrola stands to benefit. As the Fool's own TMFCommodore noted last December on CAPS, "Iberdrola's portfolio of renewable energy assets should enable long term growth."
Global competition is stiff (and in some cases, regulated) in the utilities game, with large domestic utilities like Constellation Energy
But all this may not matter in the end. Iberdrola shares spiked last week following rumors that EDF may make an offer on the company. A few days later, however, French President Sarkozy and Spanish President Zapatero announced that EDF will purchase a 15%-18% stake in Iberdrola, paid for with French nuclear-plant assets.
Over on CAPS, all 32 players who have rated Iberdrola believe it will outperform the S&P 500 going forward.
Ever since Europe's electric and gas utilities were deregulated last July, M&A fever has spread throughout the industry as large EU utility companies race to gain larger scale. Iberdrola has been active on both sides of the M&A coin, but I wouldn't buy the stock simply because it has the potential for being bought out. Its 6.8% dividend yield and strong position in growing markets should be interested investors' primary focus. Investors should also monitor the recently re-elected socialist government in Spain and how it reacts to foreign investment.
What do you think about Iberdrola -- 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. 371 out of more than 89,000 investors participating in CAPS. He does not own shares of any company mentioned. Constellation Energy is an Income Investor selection. The Fool's disclosure policy has a seven-star rating.
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