Monday, March 21, 2005

Peter Thiel - Tar Baby.

Peter Thiel was a co-founder of Paypal and is currently President of hedge fund Clarium Capital Management. Mr. Thiel appears fairly regularly on CNBC, I suspect because he's both an articulate guest and been spot on accurate in most of his predictions. Clarium must be doing pretty well, because the last I heard they had $250 million under management and now CNBC is quoting $400 million. (More background info from Bloomberg.)

Mr. Thiel appeared on CNBC last week and discussed energy, which he is bullish on.

"We are at the start of a secular bull market in energy. I think it's really just getting started. The issue is not the spot price, which is where you always have the headlines, it's been $56, $57, but it's what's been happening in the long dated prices, you go out to 2010, 2012, energy futures have been steadily moving higher and higher. And I think what you want to do as an investor is invest in oil companies that are going to be producing a lot of oil five, ten years from now as the oil majors are starting to run down."

Although there are a number of companies in this space, he recommended three in particular because he believes they have the most potential if oil prices rise substantially.

In his words: "These three we like because they have the most, sort of, upside optionality so that if the oil price actually does go through the roof and stays as high as it is and even goes higher in the years ahead, these are the ones that will profit the most on a per dollar basis because they have the potential to dramatically expand their oil production and their reserves. And this is one of the big challenges the oil majors have, when you look Exxon, BP, Shell Oil, even though they're great companies and probably still somewhat undervalued, the big challenge they have is replacing their reserves and when you look ahead 5, 10 years from now, that's going to be the enormous issue, where are you going to be finding this extra oil. We think Canada is the only stable developed country in the world that has the potential to expand it's energy production really in a meaningful way."

Opti Canada - OPCDF (Canada = OPC Toronto)
Western Oil Sands - WTOIF (Canada = WTO Toronto)
Nexen - NXY (Canada = NXY Toronto)

More on tar sands in an article from Wired last year.

Note: Tar sands and oil sands are sort of interchangeable terms, though they carry slightly different connotations. I read somewhere that the Canadian government prefers the term 'oil sands' over 'tar sands' because it sounds cleaner.

PS. The title is a play on words, it's not meant to be a knock on Peter Thiel and not meant to be racist.