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InterOil: Hot Prospects In The South Pacific

By Gene G. Marcial Little-known InterOil (IOC) has gushed from 14 on Sept. 1 to 36.25 on Dec. 15. Sure, oils have been hot, but InterOil is an intriguing play: The Canadian company is building an energy business in Papua New Guinea. It operates Papua's only commercial refinery and owns retail and wholesale outlets (mostly acquired from British Petroleum (BP). It's also exploring for oil over 8.8 million acres. The distribution and refining business alone is worth the price of the stock, says Wayne Andrews of investment bank Raymond James & Associates, which has done business with InterOil. He rates it a strong buy.

But the main reason to own the stock, says Andrews, is InterOil's oil prospecting. It has identified 10 sites in Papua that, he says, show unproved resources with a potential of 4.5 billion barrels. He sees InterOil in the black in 2005, earning $1.30 a share on sales of $545 million, compared with a loss in 2004 on $291 million. Joe Hill of Imperium Capital Management, which owns 2%, says InterOil's initial drilling in 2003 showed "encouraging results." His 12-month price target: 70.

Note: Unless otherwise noted, neither the sources cited in Inside Wall Street nor their firms hold positions in the stocks under discussion. Similarly, they have no investment banking or other financial relationships with them.

See Gene on Fridays at 1:20 p.m. EST on CNNfn's The Money Gang.

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