3 Olympic Stocks Going for Gold in London

The 2012 London Summer Olympics start this Friday, July 27. And unless you happen to own a home in the city that you can rent out at an enormous profit, pretty much the only way you as an investor can benefit from the event is to look at Olympic stocks, or companies that are directly involved in the Games. Here are three that are playing key roles.

This Olympic Stock’s Metal Gives It Pride of Place

A good place to start is with the company that will supply the 4,700 gold, silver and bronze medals that will be handed out during the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

This year, global mining giant Rio Tinto (NYSE: RIO) will supply the metal for the prized hardware. Much of it will come from the company’s Kennecott Utah Copper Project near Salt Lake City. Rio says Kennecott Utah has produced more copper than “any mine in history and today produces around 13% of the U.S.’s copper.” The project also produces gold, silver and molybdenum.

Some of the medals will also be made of metal from Rio’s Oyu Tolgoi project in Mongolia’s South Gobi Desert, which is expected to reach full production in 2018. When it does, the company feels the mine will be one of the world’s top copper and gold producers.

This Olympic Stock’s Relationship With the Games Stretches Back 40 Years

McDonald’s (NYSE: MCD) has been sponsoring the Olympics for nearly half a century. For the London Games, the company has four outlets in the Olympic Park, including the biggest McDonald’s in the world, which can hold 1,500 people.

There is an ongoing debate over whether a fast-food chain should be allowed to sponsor the world’s premier sporting event. It came back into the spotlight last week, when Mario Cardinale, head of sports science for Team Great Britain, told the Telegraph that he would be surprised if the country’s athletes ate at any of the Olympic Park McDonald’s restaurants:

“They have a choice of going to the Italian side and eating six dishes of pasta or having two burgers in McDonald’s,” said Mr. Cardinale. “But I would be very surprised if the British athletes, considering the support they get on a daily basis, go and make the wrong choice.”

Not all athletes agree, however. One who is likely to show up at the Olympic Park McDonald’s is Jamaican 100-meter gold medalist Usain Bolt, who says the secret to his success is a diet of McNuggets and yams.

Wherever you stand on whether McDonald’s has a place among Olympic stocks, you can’t deny that the event is a marketing juggernaut for the company. Its logo will appear everywhere, including on the screens of billions of viewers around the world. The relationship is also one of the keys to the Olympic stock’s strategy for further strengthening its brand overseas.

The shares are down after McDonald’s reported disappointing earnings on July 23, but the company does still boast strong growth prospects—particularly outside North America—low volatility and a decent dividend: Quarterly payments of $0.70 a share yield 3.15% on an annual basis.

Packed London Hotels Are Music to InterContinental’s Ears

InterContinental Hotels Group (NYSE: IHG), the world’s biggest hotel operator, is the official hotel provider for the London Olympics. The company controls some of the biggest names in the business, including Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn.

InterContinental has built new hotels near the Olympic Park in time for the Games and is also managing the Athletes’ Village, which will house 15,000 competitors. In addition, it has provided accommodations at 39 U.K. locations along the Olympic torch relay.

The company feels the Games will help it build on its strong first-quarter operating profits of $118 million, which were up 5% from a year ago and ahead of the consensus estimate of $116 million. Revenue gained 3%, to $409 million.

InterContinental’s overall revenue per available room, a key metric in the hotel business, jumped 7.0%, largely thanks to a 7.6% gain in the U.S. and an 11.9% jump in China.

The stock is up 28% so far this year, but it trades at a reasonable p/e ratio of 12.9. In 2011, it paid dividends at an annual rate of $0.55 a share, for a 2.31% yield.

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