Asset Rich Businesses

By Sham Gad | September 29, 2009 AAA

As rare as it is in this market today, there are still some great potential opportunities. The focus today will be on asset rich companies trading at significant discounts to those assets.

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Assets Matter
In this period of economic uncertainty, betting on consistent profitability anytime soon is a bold bet unless you are a grocery store or other essential business. So finding a business with quality tangible assets that is trading below those assets provides one very satisfactory margin of safety.

The Short List
TravelCenters of America (NYSE:TA) may arguably be one of the most undervalued names today with respect to its assets. Bear in mind, those assets are not producing any profits today, but they have the ability to produce substantial when the economy turns.

In the meantime, the company's market cap is $90 million against tangible assets of $337 million. Those assets include trucks and mega-gas stations along major interstates across the United States. Anyone who has driven on the interstate has seen them. They are massive and often include quick service restaurants like Wendy's (NYSE:WEN), large convenience stores and sometimes a motel.

TravelCenters was spun off from Hospitality Property Trust (NYSE:HPT) a couple of years ago. HPT is a $2.3 billion company engaged in hotel ownership and management. HPT has a major financial stake in TA and has every incentive to see TA turn itself around.

Harvest Natural Resources (NYSE:HNR) is an oil company operating in Venezuela. While the cloud of being in that region of the world seems to still loom over Harvest, the company reached a milestone agreement with the Venezuelan government a couple of years ago that mitigates any future problems. The country benefits immensely from having Harvest operate there.

Shares are $5 today and book value per share is over $8. Of that amount, $2 is in cash sitting in dollars in U.S. banks. As a bonus Harvest has some drilling projects in the U.S., Africa, and Asia. Should any one of those "options" prove fruitful, the company will be worth a whole lot more.

Protect Your Assets
Not all assets are created equally. Pay close attention to assets that are irreplaceable, like land, or very expensive to reproduce. The two names above own and employ valuable assets and can be bought for a fraction of their intrinsic worth.

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