There's an old German proverb that goes, "Instead of complaining that the rosebush is full of thorns, be happy that the thorn-bush has roses." What a brilliant little riddle, and a fitting one too, given the growing state of anger lately surrounding the rising price of gasoline.
Whether it's right or wrong, a passing problem or a hardship that's here to stay, you can either fight the issue and complaint about it OR seek to even the score and get long some oil stocks.
"I like them. Not just big oil, but most of the oils," says David Steinberg, founder of DLS Capital Management in Chicago --a self-proclaimed deep value shop that invests in companies that are way out of favor.
Despite the risk-fueled run up in the price of crude, if you look at how the Energy Sector (XLE) has done against its peers, you will find it at - or very near - the bottom of the pack over the past year, quarter, month and week.
From Steinberg's point of view, the case for owning oil companies, with as little exposure to the refining business as possible, is predicated on the fact that their so-called proven reserves, or oil they control that's still underground, is going to produce enormous profits for years to come. He cites BP (BP) and the recently divided Marathon (MRO) which just spun of its refining business.
"It costs about $12-18 a barrel now to buy proven reserves in the ground," Steinberg says, plus another "$40 in "lifting costs" to bring it to the surface. That leaves you with at least a $50/barrel profit and an oh-so-comfy-margin that's north of 80%.
He's convinced that high oil prices are here to stay, regardless of any gains or losses in domestic production, or whether our economy heats up or cools down a little. That's because, he says, the "real demand is coming out of China, India, the emerging markets" and that is - and will continue - to drive prices higher.
So the next time you fill up, and find yourself grumbling over the the $70, $80 or $100 tab, take a breath and look around. You just might have found your next big idea.