May 14, 2012
While the world watches to see if – or when – Greece exits the eurozone, some on Wall Street are already looking for indicators about what’s being called the “Grexit” – or looking for ways to play it.
“Outside of the Greek stock market, if there is one stock to watch as an indicator of what the market thinks of the chances Greece stays in the euro or not, watch De La Rue,” writes Peter Boockvar, equity strategist at Miller Tabak, in an email to clients today.
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De La Rue, a British company based in Basingstoke, Hampshire and traded on the London Stock Exchange, calls itself “the world's largest commercial currency printer and papermaker.” Founded in 1813 by Thomas de la Rue, the company has been printing banknotes since 1860 and is now involved in the production of more than 150 currencies, according to its website. Wall Streeters like Boockvar figure it might soon add another: the new Greek drachma. “If Greece leaves the euro, a lot of drachma will have to be created and De La Rue would be the likely maker of it,” says Boockvar.
As Chris Giles, Peter Spiegel and Kerin Hope note in the Financial Times, printing up and distributing enough of the new-old currency wouldn’t be easy. But De La Rue was involved in the printing of new currency in Iraq in 2003 and early 2004, when the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority issued new dinar notes and coins to replace those featuring Saddam Hussein. “But,” note the Financial Times reporters, “that required the efforts of De La Rue, a British speciality printer, a squadron of 27 Boeing 747s and 500 armed Fijian guards to ease the process.”
De La Rue shares have already been spiking higher, climbing more than 40 percent from a 52-week low of £721.50 to reach a new high of £1,024 ($1649) today.