Israel: In a League of Its Own
After hearing the Uranerz story for ourselves several months ago, we knew right off the bat that this stock was going to be a BIG winner for Wealth Daily subscribers.
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Since the original recommendation in Wealth Daily, we've netted an impressive 422.93% gain. Check it out . . .
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- Brian Hicks
Israel: In a League of Its Own
By Sam Hopkins
Many international soccer fans are surprised when they learn that Israel competes in the European league, UEFA. Though it is a Middle Eastern country, in sports and trade Israel plays best with the West. But you need a deeper understanding of Israel's position to tap its profit potential.
Consider patents: Israel ranks #13 on the list of United States patents issued to foreign countries since 1963. That puts this Delaware-sized nation just ahead of Belgium and just behind Australia, in the same league with another small-but-innovative patent powerhouse, Taiwan. While China shakes its fist from across the Straits at plucky Taiwan, Israel is running circles around its Near Eastern neighbors.
Among the Middle Eastern countries that do not recognize Israel, Saudi Arabia is the highest patent generator at #45.
And good luck finding Middle Eastern listings on the tech-heavy NASDAQ stock market. That is, aside from Israel's 75 public companies on that exchange alone. The nature of these companies, producers of some of the most advanced consumer, corporate, and military technologies in the world, gives us a window on Israel's national development.
You may associate the Middle East with its heavy endowment of hydrocarbons. Oil and gas come a-bubblin' and sheiks cart it away by the camel-load before calling in American and European companies to do the heavy drilling, right?
That was the case in the Gulf region, although it's been several decades now since there has been a major oil field discovery. But the Levant, as the Eastern Mediterranean is known, drew the short straw geologically. Syria, Jordan, Israel, and Lebanon are virtually barren of oil and natural gas, while neighboring Iraq and Saudi Arabia are swimming in it.
For Israel, this may be a blessing. Before and since Israel's formal declaration of independence in 1948, the country has endured nearly six full decades of warfare at varying levels of intensity. This violence is rooted in historical and religious conflict. Can you imagine how much worse this fire would burn if oil were at stake as well?
De Facto Diplomacy
At a recent gathering of diamond industry chiefs in Jerusalem, current Israeli Vice Premier and former Prime Minister Shimon Peres told his audience about Israel's best ambassadors:
"Technology does not recognize boundaries or customs offices. Governments cannot prevent the flow of knowledge and capital," he said.
"High-tech development and technologies have changed the face of Israeli diplomacy," Peres said, at the same time lamenting the lack of political progress towards a reality where regional prosperity could be achieved with Israel as a hub.
With somewhere on the order of 100,000 high-tech workers, Israel has become a hub of a different kind. There at the nexus of Asia, Africa and Europe, Israel is a magnet for high-tech investment at all levels. You know about Israel's formidable NASDAQ presence, but the road to market for those 75 companies has involved intense encouragement from the government (through subsidies and civilian spin-offs of many technologies that were originally developed for the Israel Defense Forces).
But the civilian influx of money into Israel's technological nerve centers is the most impressive. The Financial Times reports that last year over 400 Israeli companies raised $1.6 billion in venture capital funding, the first financial step to public listing.
But despite that massive total from 2006, 2007 is set to blow the top off. In the first quarter alone, Israeli companies attracted an additional 13% over the same period the year before.
Confidence in Israeli ideas is at an all-time high, even while to the north Lebanon teeters on the brink of civil war and to the south Hamas leads Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel and threatens suicide bombings.
Guess which factor I'm most focused on as I leave for that hot zone this Wednesday?
If you guessed money, you're right.
I'm not a "risk tourist." I met a few of these characters in Colombia, giddy about running around and dodging paramilitaries in a place known as the world's murder capital. I live in Baltimore, and I know where to go in my own city if I want a lively game of dodge-the-bullet.
I was in Colombia to learn how to invest in that country's 7% yearly GDP growth, and that's why I'm going to Israel also.
I'll be attending the first-ever Conference on Sustainable Energy as Catalyst for Regional Development. That will be on the Red Sea, in the beautiful resort town of Eilat. Eilat is adjacent to Jordan and Egypt, the two Arab countries with which Israel has treaties. I will also be in Jordan, speaking with leaders of joint Israeli-Jordanian solar power start-ups that hope to establish a true regional prosperity sphere.
I will also be on the Mediterranean, in the cosmopolitan city of Tel Aviv. There, I will attend the Israel Venture Association conference. Rubbing elbows with former and current chief scientists (Israel has a tech czar, something we Yankees lack entirely), I'll hear about the most exciting new companies and industries to emerge from this high-tech hot spot.
I'll also be meeting with chief executives of companies that have already impressed me, like Fundtech (FNDT:NASDAQ), a transaction technology firm whose share price has already jumped by over 43% this year. Fundtech is selling systems to the world's biggest banks like Barclays and Citigroup, proving the extent of technical trust that Israeli companies enjoy on an international scale.
There is plenty more where that came from. Some Israeli firms are in their adolescence while others are barely a glint in NASDAQ's eye. I'll find out about all of them over the next two weeks.
Orbus Investor subscribers are invited to submit "research requests," questions about the Israeli economy that I will answer from the field. They'll also have access to exclusive multimedia content and updates on companies in our portfolio as I report straight from their facilities.
I urge you to sign up now to gain inside access to this juggernaut economy as I unveil the next wave of Israeli all-stars.
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