Every now and again, I try to find the world's most unlikely, most dangerous and, therefore, least popular investment destination.
Buying where no one else dares to buy... It's an investment adage as old as the stock market itself. But buying where no one else even dares to physically set foot in can be even more lucrative.
In 2002 I was the first investment journalist to report in-depth about upcoming investment opportunities in Iraq. Back then, the war was just weeks away. People thought I was mad.
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But anyone who got in early, made buckets of money on my tip. We sold out at a tidy profit just before things in Iraq turned ugly (selling at the right time is the other half of investment success).
The biggest profits are found where no one else looks
Last week, George W. Bush was making noise about a potential attack on Iran. Frankly, I am not smart enough to know what's going on behind the scenes of world politics. Whether such a conflict will happen is anyone's guess.
What's sure, however, is that Iran's reputation currently lies in shambles. The country has been branded as part of the USA's Axis of Evil'. On Western capital markets you'd be hard pressed to find any Iran related investments.
But this negativity sparked my interest!
Does Iran offer the world's best airline?
Last week I met an Iranian friend at my local bar in Fulham. Her parents have been in Britain for decades and she is as westernised' as anyone in London. Twice a year she travels to the South of France just to visit a particular Spa. She is quite a sophisticated lady, one who enjoys the good things in life.
That's why I nearly choked on my cocktail when she told me: You know, Sven, the best airline in the world is still Iran Air.'
Personally, I would not have thought anyone in his or her right mind would consider stepping onto an Iran Air flight. Not in this day and age. But if my friend swaps her Mayfair home for a seat on an Iran Air flight, there for sure must be something to it.
A 153-fold growth in 15 years
I don't want to bore you with all the details she gave me about her trips to Iran. About the food, the beaches, the nightclubs and those of her young Iranian friends who aspire to a career and a Western lifestyle (and the fact that the country has one of the most youthful populations on earth).
But what I did want to mention to you, is that she opened my eyes to a country that I had not even kept on my radar screen. Subsequently, I did some research into the country's economy.
One titbit of information that stood out was the figures on Iranian's car market. In 1990, there were just 27,371 registered vehicles in Iran. Today, there are 4.2 million. Some 80% of them are privately owned. The figure is likely to continue to soar now that Iran is set to lower punitive taxes on car imports. At least, that's what a Nottingham-based automotive professor, Peter Cooke, expects.
The quest for the perfect Iranian investment
Interestingly, several car manufacturers seem to have intentions to set up local joint ventures for producing cars. Citroen, Peugeot, Daewoo, Renault, Nissan and Mercedes are all eyeing Iran.
Do they know something that we don't?
Either way Iran's now firmly on my list of places to visit before the year ends. Touch wood we won't get to see a military conflict down there. Not just for my sake, but for the sake of the world at large.
And with a bit of luck, we might just be able to find an interesting Iran-related investment for you. There are some 50,000 companies listed world-wide. Usually, there is always at least one company for whatever investment theme or location you can think off.
There was one for Iraq. And I am hell-bent on finding the one for Iran.
Sven Lorenfor The Profit Hunter Files
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