COMPANIES TO WATCH
(FORTUNE Magazine) – Gotaas-Larsen Shipping Corp.
The businesses of this company and the three that follow hardly ever draw cheers from security analysts. Conventional wisdom says that nobody makes money ferrying crude oil and other petroleum products around the globe. Not true. Gotaas-Larsen earned $30.6 million in 1986, or $2.36 per share, up 800% since 1983. Its five liquefied natural gas ships -- four plying the seas between between Abu Dhabi and Japan and one sailing from Indonesia to South Korea -- operate under long-term charters and provide a stable cash flow that has kept the company above water while dozens of tanker operators capsized. Last year the weak dollar and fears of terrorism in Europe enabled the Bermuda-based concern's eight Caribbean cruise ships to contribute $17.2 million of operating profits. Even the oil tanker business covered its operating costs motoring cheap Saudi crude across the Atlantic to fill gas tanks in the U.S. With the demand for OPEC oil likely to rise in the next few years, Gotaas-Larsen's tanker fleet could rev earnings up another $4 a share by 1989, according to one security analyst. Investors like George Soros evidently agree. He owns almost 14% of the common, which trades over the counter at $30 a share.
Bergesen dy AS
''Full speed ahead'' is the motto of this feisty Oslo-based company that controls one-third of the world's liquid petroleum gas tanker fleet available for hire. Over the past ten years Petter Sundt and Morten Bergesen, grandsons of the firm's founder, have spent $475 million acquiring 11 sophisticated LPG ships; they also operate nine oil tankers. Despite its substantial capital investment the company has enough cash to retire all its debt. In 1986 profits were steaming along at $45.2 million, or $10.14 per share, up 304% in the past two years. Because the supply of tankers is now in better balance with demand, Bergesen reckons that any increase in world petroleum exports could add as much as $1.50 to $1.75 per share annually to cash flow from operations over the next few years. The stock trades in Oslo at the equivalent of $52 a share, but the company plans to issue American Depositary Receipts this year for U.S. investors looking for their ship to come in.
Indiana Federal Savings & Loan
When so few investors like S&Ls, what possible appeal could there be in one that is stuck in the middle of the rust and farm belts? It couldn't sound worse, but the financials prove otherwise. Indiana Federal, the largest thrift in Valparaiso, earned $2.65 million last year, up 83% from 1984. The simple trick these folks have mastered: prudent lending. Delinquent loans have fallen to 1.27% of assets in the past three years. And the Hoosier thrift won't take a hosing if rates spike up because most of its mortgages are adjustable, and most borrowings and deposits stretch out 12 to 24 months. Indiana Federal went public in February at $10 a share. It still trades at that unpretentious price, which is 55% of book value.
Southold Savings Bank
Southold is located on the eastern tip of Long Island, and to judge by its recent profits, Chief Executive Raymond Terry can rake in the earnings faster than local oystermen can harvest the bluepoints for which the area is renowned. In the past four years net income has climbed 277% to $7.5 million. Interest rates on more than half the bank's mortgages are adjustable, and bad loans are a mere 0.2% of the total portfolio. With the stock at $12 a share, six times last year's earnings and 60% of book value, such smart investors as the Baupost Group, an investment partnership, have joined loyal depositors who own this pearl of a thrift.