Cemex: bet high – bet low?

Cemex: bet high – bet low?
Published: 27 June 2006

The recent Cemex 20-F filing to the US Securities and Exchange Commission in early June-06, highlights some interesting financial background notes of this international cement and building materials giant, which could tend to reflect upon Cemex’s continuing global success.

Parts of this latest 20-F submission are especially pertinent, given that Mexico faces presidential, federal and local elections this coming weekend, Sunday 2nd July, with a real chance of outgoing Vincente Fox and his heir apparent, Filipe Calderon being ousted by the populist, left-wing former mayor of Mexico City, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

With Obrador seen as something of a crusader for Mexico’s poor, he might, if successful, perhaps want to quickly examine why Cemex has been rather hesitant to pay outstanding taxes amounting to almost US$400m from its Mexican operations since 1992. Apparently Cemex using expenses from its global operations to offset its Mexican profits/taxes – a strategy which the Mexican tax authorities have recently challenged (so far unsuccessfully) in the local courts.

This potential change-of-government scenario and its implications for Cemex, has not been lost on the investment community and international hedge funds, both of which have consistently bet on a rising Cemex share price until recently, but who now see the stock heading south rather rapidly, with some now busy bailing out of this Mexican high-flyer.

An incoming socialist government in Mexico will do nothing to change the current thinking on Cemex share price trends, and brokers might be chalking down Cemex to below the US$55 mark come early next week.

However if Calderon confounds the pollsters and takes over the reins of Mexican power,  a quick reversal is likely, and one should see a speedy upward resurgence in Cemex fortunes, as the status-quo is maintained and Mexican business can return to normal.

Bet  low or bet high -  the choice is yours!