(Street Life is a regular feature that profiles what's playing in the stock market.)
Act I: High In The Sky
* The Player: WestJet Airlines (TSX:WJA)
* Action: Up 41 percent in a month (from $9.20 Nov. 28)
* Recent Price: $12.95
* 52-Week High/Low: $22.69/$8.34 Air Canada may have prompted more than 200 complaint calls to a consumer watchdog operation over the holidays, but WestJet is humming a happy tune.
The Calgary-based airline famous for its joke-telling, smiling service agents earned customers and praise during the Christmas season for accommodating weather-stranded Air Canada passengers. WestJet is also introducing a new rewards program in 2009 and we know how much consumers love a reward.
As well, the airline is expanding its schedule and adding new direct routes, including Calgary to San Diego, Vancouver to Saskatoon, London, Ont., to Halifax, and Edmonton to Yellowknife.
So with expanded service, consumer rewards, happy customers, and a rising stock price, it's no wonder WestJet employees are smiling; they're owners too.
Act II: Pipe Dream
* The Player: TransCanada Corp. (TSX:TRP)
* Action: Up two percent in a month (from $32.70 Nov. 28)
* Recent Price: $33.43
* 52-Week High/Low: $40.97/$29.42 Sometimes it's good to have teammates, but shareholders in Canada's largest gas shipper didn't seem to mind when partners in a large-scale project backed out.
Calgary-based TransCanada Corp. had proposed constructing a 1,077-km pipeline from Colorado to North Dakota, where it would link with a major gas transmission and processing system.
This project would help remedy the pipeline capacity shortage in the Rockies, and possibly bolster drilling in the area.
But this past week, Houston-based Enterprise Products Partners LP and Quicksilver Gas Services LP from Fort Worth, Tex., pulled out of the deal. Together, the two companies would have had a 50-percent stake in the project.
TransCanada shares rose $0.99 on the news (from $32.44 Dec. 29), while shares of Enterprise GP Holdings LP, Enterprise Products' parent company (NYSE:EPE), fell 31 cents to US$17.27, and Quicksilver shares (NYSE:KGS) fell 19 cents to US$9.40.
Act III: Silver Bullet
* The Player: Silvercorp Metals (TSX:SVM)
* Action: Up 48 percent in a month (from $2 Nov. 28)
* Recent Price: $2.95
* 52-Week High/Low: $10.65/$1.19 In chaos theory, "the butterfly effect" suggests a butterfly flapping its wings in Japan may eventually lead to a hurricane in the Caribbean. In our intertwined world economy, what starts as a hiccup in one country can snowball into a worldwide gastric pain.
Silvercorp Metals, based in Vancouver, is China's largest silver producer. But thanks to some butterfly somewhere, silver, lead and zinc prices have fallen eight, 46 and 37 percent respectively since early October. Consequently, China is shutting smelting or reducing capacity, and Silvercorp is forced to adjust its program to weather the storm.
The company has delayed exploration plans, reduced staff and management salaries by five to 25 percent, is monitoring break-even points of all mines, and concentrating on removing redundant and non-essential tasks. However, Silvercorp investors seem comfortable with the company's balance sheet and cost-cutting measures, and have lifted the stock $0.95 or 48 percent in a month.
Act IV: Talking Turkey
* The Player: TransAtlantic Petroleum Corp. (TSX:TNP)
* Action: Down 13 percent in a month (from $1 Nov. 28)
* Recent Price: $0.87
* 52-Week High/Low: $1.73/$0.26 Petroleum prices have tumbled and what was once a flurry of drilling activity has been cancelled or delayed, but the economy will turn around soon ... at least one Calgary company is counting on it.
TransAtlantic Petroleum Corp., an exploration and development company focused on oil and gas properties in Morocco, Turkey and Romania, had agreed in September to acquire Longe Energy Ltd., and committed at that time to a drilling plan in all three countries starting in early 2009.
To meet that schedule, TransAtlantic and Longe (an entity controlled by TransAtlantic's chairman) purchased around $60 million worth of rigs and other equipment, even though the acquisition deal hadn't yet closed.
Of course, the world economy has changed a little bit since September.
TransAtlantic did finally complete the Longe acquisition this week, but drilling plans have changed. The company is still mobilizing its rigs, but in stages: Morocco first, then Turkey, then Romania. Once initial wells are drilled, additional drilling will likely be delayed until Q2 2009.
Shareholders seemed relieved by the conservative plan, holding the stock price steady over the week (from $0.84 Dec. 23)
NOTE: The above is not intended as investment advice to buy or sell any mentioned securities.
Investors should do due diligence before investing. Quotes are based on results through Dec. 30, 2008.
(Nicole Strandlund can be reached at email@example.com)