How Justin Trudeau Is Destroying This Canadian Stock

SNC-Lavalin Group Inc (TSX:SNC) stock has been under pressure, but complications from its relationship with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are adding new headwinds.

| More on:
office buildings

Image source: Getty Images

In 2018, shares of SNC-Lavalin Group Inc (TSX:SNC) dropped from $60 to $45. Internal business troubles were completely to blame.

Then, on January 25, the stock dropped nearly 30% in a single trading session. This time, the pressures were far greater than weak fundamentals. Justin Trudeau, it turns out, may be to blame.

Proven history of success

Founded in 1911, SNC-Lavalin has grown to become an engineering and construction powerhouse. From renewable energy and highways to oil projects and mining facilities, SNC-Lavalin can design and build infrastructure for nearly any purpose.

Diversified revenue streams offset some of the industry’s cyclical nature, but there’s no doubt that the company needs a growing economy to succeed.

Still, its long-term track record is solid. As I wrote in February, “Since 1995, shares are up roughly 1,300%, outpacing globally renowned stocks like Mcdonald’s Corp and American Express Company.”

With an impressive multi-decade history of success, is the recent dip a buying opportunity?

Not so fast

On the surface, this looks like a chance to scoop up beaten-down shares of a company operating in a cyclical industry. Bottom-of-the-cycle buying is always scary, but it’s a great way to make money if you have the stomach for it.

In February, SNC-Lavalin cut its dividend for the first time in more than 20 years, from $0.287 per share to $0.10. The previous quarter, the company booked a horrendous $9.31 loss per share, so shoring up its balance sheet was a must. With the dividend cut, the company will save around $130 million per year.

The daunting quarterly loss looks to be one of the inevitable moments for a cyclical business. Specifically, SNC-Lavalin was forced to take a $350 million loss on one of its mining projects. While there were slight difficulties in other parts of the business, this one misstep contributed nearly all of the quarterly loss.

Moving forward, it seemed that the company would be able to shake off the headwinds after a few quarters – then Justin Trudeau entered the picture.

Introducing new uncertainties

In March, the Toronto Sun published a story covering the latest news in the Trudeau and SNC-Lavalin scandal.

According to the Sun, Trudeau “led a government-wide campaign—involving his highest-ranking officials and advisors—to politically interfere in SNC-Lavalin’s criminal prosecution on corruption charges.” His goal was to absolve SNC-Lavalin of charges in order to reduce political blow back.

Once the alleged corruption was made public, all bets were off.

There’s no doubt that the company’s stock is trading at a discount to its intrinsic value. Internal operating issues should roll off in just a few quarters. Over time, the dividend should return to its historical levels. The Trudeau allegations, however, add extreme uncertainty to the timing and probability of those events.

Currently, a bet on SNC-Lavalin is a wager on whether the company can exit the political scandal unscathed. With no reliable data to assess the downside potential, this stock is one to avoid, even if there is theoretical upside.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium service or advisor. We’re Motley! Questioning an investing thesis — even one of our own — helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer, so we sometimes publish articles that may not be in line with recommendations, rankings or other content.

Fool contributor Ryan Vanzo has no position in any stocks mentioned.

More on Investing

Tired or stressed businessman sitting on the walkway in panic digital stock market financial background
Stocks for Beginners

Buying These 2 Stocks Is a Good Way to Hedge Against a Falling Market

Investors looking to hedge against a stock downturn should consider these two stocks as viable long-term picks.

Read more »

Retirees sip their morning coffee outside.
Dividend Stocks

How I’d Invest $1000 in February to Make Easy Passive Income

Looking to earn some extra passive income in February but don't have much cash? Build an easy portfolio with these…

Read more »

The sun sets behind a high voltage telecom tower.
Energy Stocks

2 Utilities Stocks With Sought-After Stability

Here's why Fortis and Hydro One are two top utilities stocks long-term investors may want to consider right now.

Read more »

clock time
Tech Stocks

3 Top ‘Future’ Stocks to Hold for the Rest of This Decade

Canadian growth stocks like Constellation Software are starting to look appealing.

Read more »

Coworkers standing near a wall

Is Restaurant Brands International Stock Worth Buying in February 2023?

After an impressive rally, does restaurant stock QSR have more room to grow, or is it already fairly valued?

Read more »

financial freedom sign

Millionaire by 40: Top 4 Ways to Hit Your 1st Million

Canadians who want to hit the millionaire milestone by the time they hit 40 may want to target growth stocks…

Read more »

Dollar symbol and Canadian flag on keyboard
Stocks for Beginners

2 Canadian Stocks I’ll Be Buying Hand Over Fist in 2023

There are some great Canadian stocks on sale right now. Here's a duo of companies I'm buying that you may…

Read more »

Women's fashion boutique Aritzia is a top stock to buy in September 2022.
Stocks for Beginners

Has ATZ Stock Bottomed Out?

Has ATZ stock finally bottomed out after losing nearly 10% of its value in 2022? Let’s find out.

Read more »