Hurricane's Eyes Are on Kazakhstan

Shares of Hurricane Hydrocarbons (HHLF ) may not be for the faint of heart, but its stock has been a gusher. Based in Calgary and controlled by Russian and Canadian investors, the company is an independent oil explorer and producer in Kazakhstan. The stock spurted from 4.41 a share on Sept. 28, 2001, to 11.33 on Mar. 13, 2002. In 2001, its average yearly oil production increased 20%, to 100,877 barrels a day, and reserves rose 5%, to 512 million barrels. Revenues in 2001 rose to $603 million, up from 2000's $523.5 million. Analysts' consensus earnings estimate for 2002, according to Zachs Investment Research, is $2.55 a share, up from 2001's $2.12. The big payoff, however, may come from a buyout. Some investors who are close to the company say that a major oil company is getting set to make a takeover bid for Hurricane at 20 a share--and that the company will accept. They say Hurricane would be quite a catch for a major oil operator that wants a stake in Kazakhstan oil. Hurricane didn't return calls.

By Gene G. Marcial

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