Tuesday Winners: Icahn Enterprises, Ryanair and PetroBras

Among the biggest winners in Monday’s early trading are Icahn Enterprises (NYSE: IEP), PetroBras (NYSE: PBR) and Ryanair (Nasdaq: RYAAY).

Top Percentage Gainers — Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Company Name (Ticker) Intra-Day Price Intra-Day
% Gain
52-Week High 52-Week Low
Icahn Enterprises
$38.50 +12.2% $51.65 $27.50
Ryanair (Nasdaq: RYAAY) $25.25 +7.3% $31.92 $21.55
PetroBras (NYSE: PBR) $36.85 +3.5% $53.46 $31.21

*Table includes companies with minimum market capitalizations of $200 million and three month trading volumes of at least 100,000 shares. All percentage returns are listed as of 11:52AM Eastern Standard Time. Click on ticker symbols for up-to-the-minute price quotes and percentage gain data.

Barron’s Boosts Icahn

Shares of Icahn Enterprises (NYSE: IEP), the publicly-traded investment arm of uber-investor Carl Icahn, are up more than +12% today after a flattering profile in Barron’s during the weekend. Even after this morning’s spike, shares still trade at a nearly -15% discount to the underlying $44 per share net asset value (NAV) of its holdings.

#-ad_banner-#Investors have had a hard time making heads or tails of this investment vehicle. Icahn offers little insight as to the health of his holdings, offering terse quarterly earnings releases and scant commentary. And that helps explain why analysts don’t bother to follow the company or publish estimates. Only recently, the Icahn portfolio generated a quarterly loss — for the third straight quarter. So it’s unclear if the current $44 NAV will be sustained if losses continue. The lack of clarity helps explain why shares fell from $50 to $30 in recent months before a recent rebound.

Action to Take –> Even with the lack of clarity and recent losses, it’s hard to argue with the notion that shares trade at such a discount to NAV, and it’s also foolish to underestimate this legendary investor. If you are comfortable with the lack of solid information emanating from management, and can handle a high degree of volatility, this does look like a solid long-term play at a reasonable price.


RyanAir Defies Skeptics

Contending with both a local economic plunge and a business-disrupting volcano, you would have thought that Ireland-based Ryanair (Nasdaq: RYAAY), a low-fare airline, would have posted a dismal first quarter. Indeed analysts expected the air carrier, which is akin to the JetBlue (Nasdaq: JBLU) of Europe, to lose $0.30 a share. Well, a surprise profit, an unexpected large one-time dividend, and a reasonably bullish outlook have a way of converting skeptics into the bull camp. Shares are up more than +7% today.

Part of the strength is attributable to an improved pricing scheme for air carriers in both the United States and Europe. Anyone who traveled by air this past holiday weekend can tell you that airfares are no longer the bargain they once were.

Ryanair mainly focuses on European travelers, but it is increasingly partnering with U.S. carriers to handle intra-Continent routes. To the extent that the cheaper euro spurs more Americans to fly around Europe, Ryanair could be a clear beneficiary. The carrier may also benefit from the financial distress seen by rival Aer Lingus. Ryanair is sitting on roughly $3 billion in net cash, which could be used for investments that could steal more market share from beleaguered rivals.

Action to Take –> Ryanair is experiencing the kind of growth seen by Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV) in the 1990s. And that carrier turned out to be a great long-term investment. Despite today’s pop, this stock looks like a solid play in the fragmented European airline market.


PetroBras: the Safer Energy Play

While shares of domestic energy drillers come under pressure, PetroBras (NYSE: PBR) is bucking the trend today, rising roughly +3.5%. Brazil’s national oil company had fallen in sympathy with the group, but would clearly be immune from any increased industry scrutiny and regulation in the United States. PetroBras is in the early stages of tapping into a massive offshore energy field, which should yield sharply rising sales and profits in the years to come.

Action to Take –> Pegging precise profit estimates for this oil giant is difficult, as most of the analysts that follow it write in Portuguese. But this has always been considered a great proxy play for either Brazil or for the energy sector. And with shares down from the low $50s in December 2009 to a recent $37, investors can buy in while shares are on sale.