Spanish construction companies may escape the worst housing crunch in 15 years after turning themselves into cheap energy stocks.
Sacyr Vallehermoso SA and competitors together spent about $16 billion, almost a third of their annual revenue, in the second half of 2006 to buy stakes of as little as 7 percent in Spain's biggest oil and gas producers.
Some, like Sacyr, doubled the assets on their balance sheet. As much as half of the Spanish building industry's profit now comes from dividends, company filings show. As oil and gas prices rise, those gains are only going to get bigger, said Francisco Salvador, a director of Venture Finanzas in Madrid.
``People are now starting to realize that there is a certain hidden value in these builders,'' said Salvador. ``Their results are just going to keep on growing now that they've minimized their exposure to the real estate business.''>>>MORE