Friday, July 14, 2006

Notablecalls - Paperstand

The NY Times discusses student loan mkt, saying that the escalating costs of higher education may be a burden to young adults and their parents, but they are an opportunity for student loan co's. The article specifically mentions SLM Corp. (SLM), or Sallie Mae. "They’ve built a tremendous amount of scale in a very competitive, low-margin business," said Matt J. Snowling, of FBR. "The asset is very low-yielding, but profitable if it’s done right." Given that educational costs keep rising, nobody expects the student loan mkt to level off anytime soon. "Most of the growth has been in unsubsidized loans, for which you do not need to show financial need," said John Lee, of Student Marketmeasure. "A lot of that money is going to middle-income families and students as loans of convenience as opposed to loans of necessity, so the percentage of students borrowing has expanded."

Barron's Online discusses oil-service stocks, saying that shares of oil and gas service and equipment co's are up about 60% in the past 12 mo. In recent weeks, though, services co's lost value during profit-taking in commodity-tied stocks. Yet the positive long-term outlook for the services industry remains strong: rising global demand for oil and natural gas weighed against the need to replace dwindling supplies. That's why there's still appeal for some large services co's, which provide everything from seismic reserve-measuring systems, like international industry giant Schlumberger (SLB), to fluids used to flush oil from deep wells, such as Smith International (SII). "The number of drilling rigs being added for the next 3 years is a huge number," says Ole Slorer, of Morgan Stanley. "The co's that will benefit from that are the co's that provide drilling-related services."

According to the Barron's Online, Tontine Partners, a hedge fund, raised its stake in Shaw Group (SGR) to 8.5m shares, up from 7.3m shares in mid-May. Tontine now holds a 10.7% stake in the co. In addition, two directors at Shaw have also bought stock in the past week.

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