With the crisis in Greece fast becoming the center of investors’ attention, interest in Greek stocks has blossomed. But the claim that betting on Greek stocks resembles buying a lottery ticket would be even more accurate than the critics of such a strategy may know.
In a fascinating if perhaps flip comment, Yale professor of economics Robert Shiller proposed Thursday that Greek stocks could make a good pick for value-oriented investors. And for investors who actually want to make a play on Greek stocks—to the long or short side—few options present themselves besides the FTSE 20 Greece ETF (GREK).
Over the past five sessions, an average of 4 million shares have traded, compared with average daily volume of about 1.3 million shares over the past three months—with many sub-200,000 share days logged over the past year. A similar story may be seen in the options market, where put and call volume has been elevated.
But a peek under the hood of the product is instructive. The largest component by far in the ETF is Coca-Cola HBC, a Coke bottling company that is primarily listed on the London Stock Exchange.
And one of the four biggest holdings is a particularly peculiar name: Greek Organisation of Football Prognostics. That’s more or less what it sounds like—a Greek lottery and sports betting concern.
Shares of the company have been falling along with Greek stocks as a whole, though they have managed to fall less far. And according to one analyst who covers the stock, Berenice Lacroix of France-based AlphaValue, the company is likely to weather the Greek crisis well.
Even though the government could increase the tax burden on the company, the Greek Organization of Football Prognostics (more commonly known as OPAP for its Greek acronym) has been taxed to the tune of 30 percent of net revenue, “and despite that hostile tax environment, the group has proved in the past that it was able to further improve revenue,” Lacroix told CNBC on Tuesday.
And Lacroix actually sees the crisis as a positive.
“I don’t think the current macro troubles of Greece, including exit from the euro zone, will have a negative impact on revenue or on profit,” Lacroix said. “The current Greek environment would not be as disastrous, because Greek people are willing to invest in gambling, in the lottery, rather than in the macroeconomic context.”
In fact, across Europe, “these kind of companies are rising in terms of profits. Very poor people are drawn to that kind of game, because it provides them hope in terms of financial potential. The same in Greece.”
“The worse the country in terms of macroeconomic situation, the better the profits for that company,” she continued. “I’m personally very positive on the stock.”
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