A Basic Company with Unique Advantages
01/16/2012 10:00 am EST
This long-time favorite is setting up for a good buy target, and it carries a handsome dividend to boot, writes Bryan Perry of Cash Machine.
The basic materials sector is one of the deepest cyclical economic sectors, and the basis for my newest recommendation.
More specifically, I'm talking about mining iron ore in the great Mesabi Pass in Minnesota. The big player there is Mesabi Trust (MSB), and that's the company I'd like to focus on today.
You may already be familiar with MSB, as we've held it two times in recent years, but I'd still like to give you some background on this unique company before I delve into the Trust's technical information, and why I think now is the time to buy.
The trust began in 1961, mining ore at the eastern end of the Mesabi Iron Range in Minnesota. Cleveland Cliffs Inc. (CCI), together with its subsidiary, Northshore Mining Company, owns the rights to operate the mine, though the vast lands there are owned by MSB.
What I like about MSB is the unique relationship it has with Northshore. First, you should know that Northshore's role is to mine the ore and derive the iron particles from the hard rock. It then ships the resulting iron to CCI's customers, who use it in steel-producing blast furnaces.
Enter MSB. Mesabi receives royalties from Northshore, which are based on the selling price of the iron pellets it ships. It also receives a smaller royalty based on the tons of ore that are extracted at the mine.
MSB is a publicly held trust, run by fewer than ten people. According to its Web site, the Trust is registered as a pass-through entity and its revenues are taxed not to the Trust, but to the unit olders. Therefore, MSB is not able to engage in any other business than the collection and distribution of royalties and payment of expenses.
It's all about end demand and how much Cleveland Cliffs extracts from quarter to quarter, most of which ends up overseas in emerging markets in the form of what is called pig iron, or iron bars, that are then fashioned into gleaming steel bars or other steel fabrications, such as rolled steel. As you can imagine, this falls right into the infrastructure theme of building bridges, dams, harbors, shipbuilding, skyscrapers, autos, trucks and all manner of heavy construction.
From a technical standpoint, shares of MSB have commenced a new rally phase. If you connect all the tops dating back to April, you'll see how the stock has broken the downtrend channel this past week.
This is pretty exciting because at its current price, MSB is carrying a yield of 7.93% and has a 15% projected yield as of its most recent quarterly results. And, the fact that the stock has cleared its 200-day moving average only invites further interest from the crowd who lives and dies by the charts.
A reverse head-and-shoulders formation was also established in early October, a pattern that gets the attention of market technicians. (Earnings estimates aren't even worth discussing, as they can range from $2 to $5 depending on the many factors that affect how Cleveland Cliffs sells into its end markets.)
We've been in MSB twice before, once in 2007 and again in 2009. In 2007, MSB delivered huge results for us in the form of a 65% gain. In 2009, I recommended selling MSB for a loss when the S&P was trading around 700. At that time, there was great fear that it would fall to 500 and throw us into a deep depression.
Consider that this time around we are coming out of a recession and I expect to see the cycle for iron ore to pick up. Remember that commodities as a sector are highly volatile, just like the high-yield stocks associated with them.
I recommend purchase of MSB, as I believe the time to own Mesabi Trust is now, and that we will be rewarded richly. Buy MSB under $32. [The units traded for $31.21 at the close on Friday—Editor.]