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Monday 26 September 2016

It's oil, Swiss watches and fags for the contrarian investor

Published 06/09/2015 | 02:30

Oil could be worth investing in if you're interested in commodities, and are willing to take a bit of risk - and a long-term view.
Oil could be worth investing in if you're interested in commodities, and are willing to take a bit of risk - and a long-term view.

Oil could be worth investing in if you're interested in commodities, and are willing to take a bit of risk - and a long-term view.

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As oil prices have been taking a hammering for months now, it is very cheap - seven years ago, it cost almost four times more to buy a barrel of oil.

"We're less bearish on oil than on other commodities," said Davy's Brian O'Reilly. "It's excess supply, rather than a collapse in demand which has led to falling oil prices. We would expect oil prices to move higher over the next one to two years but it's a difficult thing to predict. The lower the oil price falls, the more energy companies will go out of business - particularly in the US. So you should eventually get a reduction in supply."

Choose your oil companies wisely though - avoid ones that are small and vulnerable. "You are catching a falling knife when it comes to commodities," said Ian Quigley of Investec Wealth & Investment.

"There's probably some value in the shares of large oil companies - they look attractively priced on the assumption that the oil price recovers. You might see vulnerability in small oil companies however."

Emerging markets are clearly risky territory - but many of these shares are also very cheap today.

"It's more sensible to stick to the shares of high-quality global multinationals - but if you get a quick recovery in China, you could make more money in emerging markets," said Mr Quigley.

Shares with exposure to China and emerging markets, such as those of luxury retailer LVMH and British American Tobacco, can be snapped up relatively cheap today and could be worth investing in as a result - if you're willing to take a risk, said Goodbody's Bernard Swords.

"The issue with cheap stocks is will they get cheaper," said Andrew Milligan of Standard Life Investments. "This gets into a complex question: Can some of these stocks turn around and recover - or if there's further downward pressure in China, will we see even weaker prices for raw material type companies? Anyone looking to buy into a market sell-off needs to think very carefully indeed."

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