O Canada! 5 stocks for northern exposure

This market offers more than the occasional high-tech company or high-yielding energy royalty trust.

By The Fiscal Times Oct 10, 2012 11:18AM
Canada, copyright Royalty-Free, CorbisBy Suzanne McGeeThe Fiscal Times logo

If you're a U.S. investor contemplating Canadian stocks, the name that probably pops into your mind is Research In Motion (RIMM), the very troubled manufacturer of the BlackBerry. But Canadian markets offer more than the occasional high-technology company or high-yielding energy royalty trust.

We're not saying these are all raving buys at their current prices, just that investors who have held them in recent months have found their gains probably more than offset the cost of their Thanksgiving feasts.

1. Iamgold (IAG) -- yes, that's really its name -- is, as the name implies, in the business of extracting gold from rock. And it is doing well at it, recently announcing a 274% increase in likely reserves of gold at a Northern Ontario project. The stock, which also trades in Toronto under the ticker IMG, is up from a May low of $9.20 to $16.24.

2. Whistler-Blackcomb Holdings (TSE: WB) owns about 75% of the iconic British Columbia ski resort and the related hospitality assets. The stock price gain isn't as impressive as that of other companies on this short list, but it's not too shabby -- it's up at C$11.90 from C$9.30 about a year ago -- but its yield of 8% is almost as awe-inspiring as the vistas of the Canadian Rockies from the Whistler chairlifts.

3. WestJet's (WJAFF) flights will get you to Whistler -- and pretty much anywhere else you want to go. With the Canadian national carrier, Air Canada, perpetually in the doldrums, WestJet has thrived, and its stock price reflects it, up at C$18 now from a 52-week low of C$10.30.

4. Gibson Energy (TSE: GEI) does pretty much everything with oil and gas except for the basic job of finding it and extracting it from the ground. Once it's out, though, Gibson transports it (via pipelines or trucks), markets it, turns it into asphalt for roads or roofing tar and sells propane byproducts to individuals who need tanks for their camper vans or summer cottages. The stock has risen from C$17.72 a year ago to about C$23.23 today, winning it a "buy" rating from UBS.

5. DirectCash Payments (TSE:DCI) is responsible for some of those prepaid phone cards that you can find in every New York City bodega -- and corner stores across North America. It also owns and operates a network of ATMs. A pedestrian business, sure, but the stock is at C$25.19 today, up from a low last November of C$18.58.

These stocks provide a reminder that in spite of Peter Lynch's mantra to buy what you know, sometimes venturing beyond your borders can be worthwhile, whether you're trying to gain more access to a specific industry, add a global leader to your portfolio, or simply diversify your holdings.

Suzanne McGee is a columnist at The Fiscal Times. Subscribe to The Fiscal Times' free newsletter.

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