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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Boys in the Band Put Their Eggs In the Russian Oil-Stock Basket

As LUKoil sets its fund-raising sights on capital markets worldwide, it's probably thinking more about London and New York than the sleepy U.S. state of West Virginia.


But the Russian oil giant might be interested to know some of its most enthusiastic investors are a group of rural, West Virginia musicians who call themselves The Dawn Patrol.


They wear shorts and sneakers. They go fishing in their free time. They even have a corny, homemade web page. But although they bide their time making music in watering holes of questionable repute, The Dawn Patrol is no band of slackers.


The group of five invests half its yearly earnings in the stock market, creating a nest egg that has topped six figures, said band guitarist and master stock-picker Bob Nelson, who goes by the mysterious moniker "Kid Otto."


And yes, one of the Kid's favorite bets is LUKoil, a company that has invested gobs of money selling its story to wing-tipped, city-slicker investment bankers while Kid Otto sits at his computer in Calhoun County, obsessively checking and rechecking the company's stock price.


"LUKoil is the mother lode. It's the biggest thing in the world," Kid Otto said Thursday in a telephone interview. "And the beauty of it is no one over here knows about them."


Kid Otto, who describes the band's sound as "acoustic James Brown," said he became intrigued with LUKoil when he compared its share price to that of other companies traded on NASDAQ. LUKoil's level-one American Depositary Receipts are traded over the counter.


"They stick out like a sore thumb because everybody else is trading at 32 cents a share and here's LUKoil at $93," he said.


The group bought the shares at $63 and is thrilled to see they've risen to over $90 in recent weeks.


A LUKoil spokesman said he isn't surprised by The Dawn Patrol's interest.


"We have the most crazy investors. They think it's exotic to buy Russian stocks," the spokesman said. Some investors gather a few shares in a variety of foreign companies as a hobby, like collecting stamps, he added.


But to The Dawn Patrol, it's no hobby. The group has invested "serious money" not only in LUKoil, but in Russian telecommunications provider Rostelekom and natural gas monopoly Gazprom. Kid Otto constantly monitors the Internet looking for more information on his investments, and he is quite possibly the world's most attentive viewer of CNN's "Moneyline" program.


"Look, 'Moneyline' says Russia's stock market is up 164 percent since the beginning of the year," he said. "Brazil is in second place, then Hungary."


Other band members appear, well, more relaxed about the their investments. "It's working so far," said the lead singer. "He's lost his mind," said the keyboard player of Kid Otto.


The Dawn Patrol has toured the Bahamas and Saudi Arabia but has never been to Russia. They'd really like to come, Kid Otto said, "if somebody can foot the airfare."


Apparently, like any prudent investor, The Dawn Patrol isn't planning to spend its earnings anytime soon.