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Investing in Canada

There are profitable foreign investment opportunities right next door in Canada. Investing in Canada is attractive today because of the low exchange rate of the Canadian dollar versus the greenback. We have written recently about currency exchange rates and investing offshore and asked which are the best countries for investing your money. Investing in Canada takes advantage of a weak loonie (Canadian dollar) and the fact that Canada is a stable democracy with a transparent financial system. First, let’s look at the weakening Canadian dollar.

Cheap Oil Drives the Loonie Down

Bloomberg writes about the 6 year low of the Canadian dollar.

The Canadian dollar weakened to a six-year low as the price for crude oil, the country’s largest export, tumbled and speculation built for the U.S. Federal Reserve to signal it is closer to raising interest rates.

The currency fell against most of its major peers as analyst forecasts for record U.S. oil stockpiles pushed crude to its own six-year low. The U.S. central bank is projected to remove an assurance from its statement that it will be “patient” before raising interest rates. The Bank of Canada cut its own benchmark rate once this year to counteract the effects of falling oil and economists in a Bloomberg survey predict another cut by mid-year.

Oil is a major source of export income for Canada. The US fracking boom coupled with economic slowdowns in China, Japan and Europe have hurt not only oil prices but also the Canadian dollar.  The USA is likely to raise interest rates in the near future while Canada has lowered rates. This will further drive the value of the Canadian dollar down. For the investor this simply makes investing in Canada cheaper and more attractive.

Canadian Stocks

The Toronto stock exchange is owned and operated by the TMX Group and has the largest number of security listings of any exchange in North America. More mining, oil and gas companies are listed on the Toronto stock exchange than on any other stock exchange. It is in the weak oil, gas and mining sectors that investing in Canada could be most profitable over the long term. The Wall Street Journal says that Athabasca oil, Whitecap and Pacific Rubiales are Canada stocks to watch.

Athabasca Oil Corp.ATHOF +5.97% said it would separate the roles of the chairman and chief executive as of April 20, with Thomas Buchanan remaining as chairman and President Rob Broen taking the CEO role. It also said it has ended its cost-structure review and has cut costs in all areas, including a reduction in its head-office staff by about 50% since the start of 2014.

Whitecap Resources Inc.SPGYF -0.10% posted a fourth-quarter profit of 65 Canadian cents a share, compared with a small loss a year earlier, while cash flow improved to 54 Canadian cents from 39 Canadian cents. The oil and gas firm said it expects continued commodity-price volatility this year, but is projecting 11% production growth and plans to maintain its current monthly dividend.

Pacific Rubiales Energy Corp.PEGFF -3.30% suspended its quarterly dividend and recorded a $1.6 billion impairment charge in the fourth quarter due to slumping oil prices.

While stock prices are reduced across the oil, gas and mining sectors this will not be the case forever. Companies that successfully retrench and increase efficiencies will be better positioned to prosper when economic conditions improve in Europe and Asia. Investing in Canada today is a bit like the old adage that the best time to invest is when there is blood in the streets.

Criteria for Investing in Canada

So long as oil, gas and other raw materials are cheap, investing in Canada will also be at a discount. So long as the Canadian dollar is in the 76 cent range compared to the greenback there will be deals. If a Federal Reserve interest rate hike drives investors away from US stocks, investing in Canada can be a sound option. As the Canadian dollar sinks The Globe and Mail discusses the situation.

It all comes down today to the patience of the Federal Reserve. And, specifically, whether it’s losing it.

Many observers believe the U.S. central bank will drop the word “patient” from its policy statement this afternoon, setting the stage for an interest rate hike as early as June.

That is probably the key for timing a further drop in the loonie and a bottoming out of Canadian oil, gas and mining stocks. As always do your own fundamental analysis and never be afraid to stay out of an investment that you do not understand.

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