Big chap he was, tall as a pine tree and fairly chunky. I’m sure his mother Astrid, would’ve said he was big boned, but then again, he did come from strong viking stock, so in his village all the chaps were probably his size.
Holgar had a funny kind of walk. He would lean forward at the waist, drag one foot behind him until it caught up with his upper body and then kind of just plonk it down so it registered on the Richter scale a bit, and then repeat the process with the other foot and thus propel himself forward like some giant Godzilla with a limp. You definitely felt Holgar coming.
Holgar had one of those expressions on his face that made him look as if he was lost in thought somewhere, just without the thoughts, if you see what I mean: Eyes glazed, mouth slightly open. Basically when you looked at him you expected drool.
If someone had placed a viking helmet on Holgar’s noggin and put a battle-axe in his hands, upon first sight of his approach, I can guarantee you would have been locking up your wives and daughters a bit sharpish.
Speaking of his hands, Holgar had giant ones, like tennis racquets. You could just imagine his forefather getting off the long boat after crossing the Atlantic, arriving in America and saying:
“I’ve had a rotten crossing, I’m long-boat lagged, I lost my luggage when we stopped off in Ireland, the food was terrible and to top it off they sat me next to Ingmar for the whole damn trip, he never stopped yapping and his rowing technique was off.
Now that I’m here I got this funny looking little native chap with bird feathers on his head, wearing make-up, jumping up and down, waving an axe at me the size of my butter knife… and what is that incessant high-pitched yoddling thing he’s doing? It’s giving me a migraine. I don’t know if I should just smack ‘Chief Asking for an Nordic Ass Whoopin’ with my ginormous hand (and when he eventually wakes up sometime next week, he’ll discover that I have burned down his tent and impregnated his wife). Or should I just chop his head off with my battle-axe? Decisions, decisions.”
So as you can tell Holgar was a pretty formidable looking fellow.
But you see, the thing about Holgar was that if you sat down with him for two minutes, you were immediately charmed. He was the most jovial and pleasant chap you could ever hope to meet. And he was smart about finance, razor sharp smart. Basically that’s the Norwegians for you: A wonderful bunch of big people who are pretty nifty in the grey matter department. Must be all the fish they eat. Talking of which.
The Norwegians rule the world in salmon fishing and farming. They have a total of seven salmon related companies listed on the Norwegian stock exchange. The thing about these companies is that they are very reasonably valued, the highest valued (Marine Harvest) trades at a forward PE of 13 and the cheapest (Salmar) trades at a forward PE of a little under seven.
What's jolly wonderful about them is that when things are going swimmingly, they like to dish out a hefty dividend. Most of the firms are estimated to pay out in excess of a 5 % dividend. Lovely that. So from a traditional investor's point of view, they really do look rather tasty:
- Easy to understand business (People have to eat)
- Good fundamentals
- Shareholder friendly
But there are caveats here. Firstly their business is linked to the price of salmon (hardly surprising that). If the price of salmon drops, it doesn’t matter how well run the business is, the share price is going to sink. Currently though things look rather nice, because salmon prices are holding up well and for the first half of 2013 it is estimated that salmon availability will be rather tight, which should support the overall price.
There is one thing you have to keep in mind when investing in the Norwegian stock market: It is an insider market. I know you aren’t supposed to say this aloud and people tend to get annoyed when someone says this, but I will say it, because it is so.
Because it is an insiders market, you invest at the locals pleasure, meaning you well get royally shafted every now and then unless you protect the downside.
As mentioned before the Norwegians are generally a very hospitable and lovely bunch but every now and then their Viking heritage rears its head and they decide to rape and pillage their foreign investors. The result is normally an almighty drop in share prices. Going down 50% is perfectly normal while the locals nibble on salmon bread on rye and wash it down with aqvavit while taking your money and watching you squirm.
You have been warned.