Category Archives: Special Situations

Precious Metal Mining Stocks May Be Making History Today

Gold Stocks Turn

 Gold always does what it should do…it just never does it when we think it should. –Richard Russell

gold stock bears

Past bear markets in precious metals miner stocks have been vicious since they are last in the production cycle as a commodity producer.

lundeen062511b

Past history of mining shares….

Unless these past three days are simply window dressing and short covering, then something meaningful may be occurring:

BIG GDX

Small GDX

The GDX represents several of the senior gold producing companies. The GDX has under-performed the gold price as represented by (GLD) for about 5 years and especially in the past two years.  Note the radical change in the past two days as gold, ironically, fell below the all-in cost to produce an ounce of gold for the majority of mining companies.

Change

Two days is just one sign, but a big one in my opinion. Until after the Fourth of July weekend, the true trend may be revealed since this is quarter end and before a long holiday next week. I am bullish for the long-term in SELECTED, WELL-CAPITALIZED companies.  Remember to do YOUR own thinking and correlation is not causation. I have been two to three months early and down 20% so far, but I sense a turn–finally?!  Prices are absurd.

Perhaps better to listen to an old pro (albeit biased)

Speaking toward what he’s seeing from the institutional investor community, Rick said, “This is the fourth time in my career that I’ve seen capitulation selling, and it get’s ugly and spasmodic…Last week I was on the East Coast of the United States visiting very large institutional investors, and the level of indecision I saw was absolutely classic of the period right before capitulation—andthis week, right on schedule, we’re getting it. [It's] truly ugly, but it’s the kind of cleansing the market needs.”   (Source: www.bullmarketthinking.com)

Hear interview: 6272013rule

 

Learn more:

http://www.kitco.com/ind/Trendsman/2013-06-28-Epic-Opportunity-in-Gold-Stocks.html

http://www.stentormedia.com/gold-mining-stocks-have-outperformed-the-dow-since-1920

http://www.fgmr.com/gold-mining-stocks-have-outperformed-the-djia.html

http://www.gold-eagle.com/editorials_08/lundeen062511.html

http://www.gold-speculator.com/mark-lundeen/77176-barron-s-gold-mining-index-gold-silver-1920-dollar-terms-they-re-cheap.html

HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND.

PS: if you have a question, please post it in the comments section–my emails are swallowed up.

A Contrarian’s Dream (CEF); The Buffetts’ Thoughts on Money

Bankers

Another conviction forced upon my mind, by the examination of long periods of history, was the exceedingly small part played by conscious thought in moulding the fate of men. At the moment of action the human being almost invariably obeys an instinct, like an animal; only after action has ceased does he reflect.” –Brooks Adams in The Law of Civilization and Decay (1897)

Perhaps the only reliable contrary thought one dares hold when monetary innovations are presented is simply one of doubt. Old-timers have confidence only in gold, whereas the younger and “newer” economists are unafraid to experiment with substitutes for what has been called our “barbaric metal.” A speaker contends that gold may be barbaric, “but it is no relic.”

A review of depressions reveals how in every cycle the crisis developed when money and credit became overextended. No answer to the monetary riddle is foreseeable so long as bankers, business-men and speculators act normally, which is that they will push for profits when, and as long as, there is capital gain to be made. They will leave the idealistic “distaste” for money and the power of money to the hippies. 

The trained contrarian recognizes the periods of monetary over-extension and guards against the inevitable “corrections.” He need not understand the riddle of money to avoid its perils.  –Humphrey B. Neill, The Ruminator

 Buy CEF or buying gold and silver bullion at a discount

CEF pricing history

Buy CEF

CEF Five Year

CEF is a closed-end fund that holds gold and silver bullion--currently trading at a 1.5% to 2% discount. Back in 2011, CEF traded at a 6% premium. The present discount is a function of HISTORICAL and UNPRECEDENTED bearishness by small speculators who are currently net short! If ever there was contrarian signal, this is one. Oh, I forgot one, Noureil Roubini, an economist, says that gold will go to $1,000 because the world is in recovery. See below:

Gold & Silver COT Small Specs Net Short

Gold & Silver Short Selling

Commercials at a thirteen year high in bullish positioning

http://www.321gold.com/editorials/mcclellan/mcclellan061713.html

Commercial Hedgers in Gold

In recent years, commercial gold futures traders have been continuously net short ever since late 2001, and so the game consists of evaluating their comparative net short position relative to recent readings.

The reason for this bias to the short side is that a lot of the commercial gold traders are gold producers, who sell their future production ahead of time in the futures markets, and who thus are short. Commercial traders of silver futures have been continuously net short to varying degrees going all the way back to the start of modern COT Report data back in 1986.

In the chart above, the current reading is the commercials’ lowest net short position (as a percentage of total open interest) since 2001, which was when gold prices were just starting a multi-year uptrend from below $300/oz. The message here is that commercial traders as a group are convinced that gold prices are heading higher. They usually get proven right, eventually, although sometimes we have to wait around longer than we might wish for “eventually” to get here.

 

http://www.cefconnect.com/Details/Summary.aspx?ticker=CEF. Now, you may not wish to own gold as a way to hold/store a portion of your savings, but if you are looking for a way to buy bullion, this might be an intelligent way. This writer’s understanding is that  gold is money (all else is credit–J.P. Morgan)–if it wasn’t, then gold’s U.S. dollar price would probably be 50% to 95% lower. Gold is not a currency due to our fiat currency laws (coercion), and gold is NOT an investment. Gold does not create wealth, but it represents wealth/savings. Finally, extreme bearishness may be a contrarian buy signal, but–as in all things pertaining to human action–prices may decline further for a while. No one knows future prices definitively.

However, with high bearishness among small specs in the leveraged paper market with strong commercial traders on the other side of the trade after a two-year decline of 30% to 50% in gold and silver prices, which side do you want to be on?  The theory of contrary opinion aims at avoiding Crowd opinions. That is a broad generality but the reason for avoiding the crowd in most matters is that the crowd is often wrong. A crowd is swayed by emotion and fear rather than by ruminating and reasoning.

Now, why own some gold? Gold is non-printed, non-government created money. If you believe that our current fiat currency/debt laden system is sustainable or that the Fed can “taper” and “exit,” with precision, perfect foresight, and without consequences then just hold paper dollars. If you do own CEF, pray that bullion declines in price because then the rest of your portfolio is probably prospering. Gold is not an investment but simply another form of money.

Warren and Howard Buffett’s Thoughts on Money and Gold

Now where are we today?

View the below videos for a discussion of some economic issues concerning massive debts and zero interest rate policy. The first video is 18 minutes while the next video is 55 minutes.

Arguments given for central planning interventionism and going off the “gold standard” are the periods of booms and busts during the 19th century–forgetting that 1880 to 1913 showed consistent 4% to 5% REAL economic growth while nominal prices declined. Of course, with FRACTIONAL RESERVE banking (Ponzi finance) and regardless of bank notes fully redeemable in gold, there would be booms and busts because credit could be extended through fractional reserves beyond true savings. In other words, money is still being created out of thin air and the currency is not fully-backed 100% by gold (representing true savings). Governments do not enforce a depositor’s property rights by suspending redemption in times of crisis because governments are dependent upon banks for some of their financing. You have to fix all the underlying problems.

Finally, a massive disconnect in reality: Paul Krugman, a nobel-prize winning “economist” says that higher regulatory burdens have NO NEGATIVE effects upon small businesses. How can any one person be so arrogant and ignorant? All he has to do is ASK an entrepreneur/”small” business person DIRECTLY.  If anyone can prove Krugman’s point to me, I  will gladly send you $1 million in gold coins.  As Chicago Slim says, “This will not end well.”

Update on a Reader’s Question About Investing; Greenblatt Offers Advice

Junk Food

A reader asks what to do with his $150,000: http://wp.me/p2OaYY-1TE. This post is a follow-up.

First, I would do nothing until you know what you are doing. As Jim Rogers said, “Don’t do anything until you see money laying in the street.” WAIT. You can’t ask other people to value companies for you. You either learn to do that yourself within your circle of competence (The Goal of CSinvesting.org) or you find a low-cost way to be in equities.

My advice: avoid high fees. That nixes most mutual funds, hedge funds and managed money. Read more:http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-04-29/wall-street-rentier-rip-index-funds-beat-996-managers-over-ten-years

Keep it simple.  There are four asset classes (Read The Permanent Portfolio)41f5oFGYTqL__SL160_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-dp,TopRight,12,-18_SH30_OU01_AA160_Equities, Bonds, Cash, and Gold

I love finding undervalued businesses, but we live in a world of monetary distortion of fiat currency wars (Japan), suppressed interest rates, hidden risks and massive debasement so I would have 5% up to 25% in gold as an insurance policy to maintain the purchasing power of my savings. Gold coins from a reputable dealer should be part of that.  Buying CEF at a discount would be another low cost way to own bullion. Gold is just a commodity money that holds its value over centuries and it can’t be printed nor does it have liabilities (counter-party risk) like fiat currencies.  Another way to approach it might be avoid oversupply (dollars) and buy undersupply (money that can’t be printed).  Don’t take my word for it. What did an oz of gold purchased 200 years ago, 100 years ago, 50 years ago and 20 years ago? Choose a man’s suit, a night at a decent hotel and a meal as items to consider.  Learn more here: http://www.garynorth.com/public/department32.cfm Follow the links to the free books and reports on gold, you will learn alot. 

Now, I own some gold coins but I don’t count investments like Seabridge Gold (SA) as an insurance policy, but as an investment in gold. I can own an oz in the ground for $10 in enterprise value per share. Of course, there are plenty of risks to get an oz of gold out of the ground, but I think there is some margin of error.  But I don’t recommend this strategy for others due to the need to diversify highly, know the industry, and the tremendous volatility.

Government bonds are a mass distortion on the short end and as long as other governments will hold our dollars this game can continue a long time. I would stay within a laddered bond portfolio of no more than seven years so WHEN interest rates rise, you can roll into higher yields. I would do this if you have to have cash in three to four years, and you are hedging your portfolio with this different asset class.  But I think of government bonds as return-free risk.  You take on risk for tiny returns. Welcome to financial repression. The Fed is punishing savers to fund the government. Corporate bonds require you to be able to read balance sheets so you are adequately paid for th credit risk.

If you are willing to do some work and have the temperament, then here is one way to invest in equities besides an index fund as Buffett has suggested:

The Eternal Secret of Successful Investing

A Little Wonderful Advice from Where Are The Customer’s Yachts? by Fred Schwed, Jr., 1940 (pages 180-182)

For no fee at all I am prepared to offer to any wealthy person an investment program which will last a lifetime and will not only preserve the estate but greatly increase it. Like other great ideas, this one is simple:

When there is a stock-market boom, and everyone is scrambling for common stocks, take all your common stocks and sell them. Take the proceeds and buy conservative bonds. No doubt the stocks you sold will go higher. Pay no attention to this—just wait for the depression which will come sooner or later. When this depression—or panic—becomes a national catastrophe, sell out the bonds (perhaps at a loss) and buy back the stocks. No doubt the stocks will go still lower. Again pay no attention. Wait for the next boom. Continue to repeat this operation as long as you live, and you will have the pleasure of dying rich.

A glance at financial history will show that there never was a generation for whom this advice would not have worked splendidly. But it distresses me to report that I have never enjoyed the social acquaintance of anyone who managed to do it. It looks as easy as rolling off a log, but it isn’t. The chief difficulties, of course, are psychological. It requires buying bonds when bonds are generally unpopular, and buying stocks when stocks are universally detested.

I suspect that there are actually a few people who do something like this, even though I have never had the pleasure of meeting them. I suspect it because someone must buy the stock that the suckers sell at those awful prices—a fact usually outside the consciousness of the public and of financial reporters.   An experienced reporter’s poetic account in the paper following a day of terrible panic reads this way:

Large selling was in evidence at the opening bell and gained steadily in volume and violence throughout the morning session. At noon a rally, dishearteningly brief, took place as a result of short covering. But a new selling wave soon threw the market into utter chaos, and during the final hour equities were thrown overboard in huge lots, without regard for price or value.

The public reads the papers, and reading the foregoing, it gets the impression that on that catastrophic day everyone sold and nobody bought, except that little band of shorts (who most likely didn’t exist).   Of course, there is just no truth in that at all. If on that day the terrific “selling” amounted to seven million, three hundred and sixty-five thousand shares, the volume of the buying can also be calculated.   In this case it was 7,365,000 shares.

CASE STUDY

How Mr. Womack Made a Killing by John Train (1978)

The man never had a loss on balance in 60 years.

His technique was the ultimate in simplicity. When during a bear market he would read in the papers that the market was down to new lows and the experts were predicting that it was sure to drop another 200 points in the Dow, the farmer would look through a S&P Stock Guide and select around 30 stocks that had fallen in price below $10—solid, profit making, unheard of companies (pecan growers, home furnishings, etc.) and paid dividends. He would come to Houston and buy a $25,000 “package” of them.

And then, one, two, three or four years later, when the stock market was bubbling and the prophets were talking about the Dow hitting 1500, he would come to town and sell his whole package. It was as simple as that.

He equated buying stocks with buying a truckload of pigs. The lower he could buy the pigs, when the pork market was depressed, the more profit he would make when the next seller’s market would come along. He claimed that he would rather buy stocks under such conditions than pigs because pigs did not pay a dividend. You must feed pigs.

He took “a farming” approach to the stock market in general. In rice farming, there is a planting season and a harvesting season, in his stock purchases and sales he strictly observed the seasons.

Mr. Womack never seemed to buy stock at its bottom or sell it at its top. He seemed happy to buy or sell in the bottom or top range of its fluctuations. He had no regard whatsoever for the cliché’—Never send Good Money After Bad—when he was buying. For example, when the bottom fell out of the market of 1970, he added another $25,000 to his previous bargain price positions and made a virtual killing on the whole package.

I suppose that a modern stock market technician could have found a lot of alphas, betas, contrary opinions and other theories in Mr. Womack’s simple approach to buying and selling stocks.   But none I know put the emphasis on “buy price” that he did.

I realize that many things determine if a stock is a wise buy. But I have learned that during a depressed stock market, if you can get a cost position in a stock’s bottom price range it will forgive a multitude of misjudgments later.

During a market rise, you can sell too soon and make a profit, sell at the top and make a very good profit. So, with so many profit probabilities in your favor, the best cost price possible is worth waiting for.

Knowing this is always comforting during a depressed market, when a “chartist” looks at you with alarm after you buy on his latest “sell signal.”

In sum, Mr. Womack didn’t make anything complicated out of the stock market.   He taught me that you can’t be buying stocks every day, week or month of the year and make a profit, any more than you could plant rice every day, week or month and make a crop. He changed my investing lifestyle and I have made a profit ever since.

Keep this a secret!

Of course after reading those pieces, you realize there is no secret to investing.   All the principles are laid out in Security Analysis and The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham. The application and evolution of value investing principles are laid out each year in Mr. Buffett’s shareholder letters. The study, application and discipline are up to you, but then who would want it any other way?

JOEL GREENGreenblatt Offers Advice

The BIG SECRET for the Small Investor: A New Route to Long-Term Investment Success by Joel Greenblatt (2011)

When investors decide to invest in the stock market they can:

  1. Do it themselves
  2. Give it to professionals to invest.
  3. They can invest in traditional index fund
  4. Or they can invest in fundamentally constructed indexes (recommended)

If brains, dedication and MBA degrees won’t help you beat the market, what will?

The secret to beating the market is in learning just a few simple concepts that almost anyone can master. These concepts serve as a road map that most investors simply don’t have.

Most people CAN do it. It is just that most people won’t. Why?

Understand where the value of a business comes from, how markets work and what really happens on Wall Street will provide important conclusions.

The BIG SECRET to INVESTING:  Figure out the value of something—and then pay a lot less. Graham called this “investing with a margin of safety.”

In short, if we invest without understanding the value of what we are buying, we will have little chyance of making an intelligent investment.  The value of an investment comes from how much that business can earn over its entire lifetime. Discounted back to a value in today’s dollars.  Earnings over the next twenty or thirty years are where most of this value comes from. Earnings from next quarter or next year represent only a tiny portion of this value. Small changes in growth rates or our discount rate will lead to large swings in value.

Then there is relative value. What business is the company in? How much are other companies in similar businesses selling for? Looking at relative value makes complete sense and is an important and useful way to help value businesses. Unfortunately, there are times when this method doesn’t work well. The Internet bubble of the late 1990s, when almost any company associated with the Internet traded at incredibly high and unjustifiable prices. Comparing one Internet company to another wasn’t very helpful.

In the stock market this kind of relative mispricing happens. An entire industry, like oil or construction, may be in favor because prospects look particularly good over the near term.  Yet when an entire industry is misprices (like the capital goods sector during a boom), even the cheapest oil company or the least expensive construction company may bge massively overpriced!

There are other methods such as acquisition value, liquidation value, and sum of the parts, can also be used to help calculate a fair value.

By now you know it is not so easy to figure out the value of a company.  How in the world do we gho about estimating the next thirty-plus years of earnings and, on top of that, try to figure out what those earnings are worth today? The answer is actually simple: We don’t.

We start with the assumption that there are other alternatives for our money.   Say we can get 6%[1] for ten years from a government bond compared to a company paying a 10% earnings yield. One is guaranteed and the other is variable—which do we choose? That depends upon how confident we are in our estimates of future earnings from the company we valued or what other companies can offer us in return.

We first compare a potential investment against what we coulde earn risk-free with our money. If we have high confidence in our estimates and our investment appears to offer a significantly higher annual return over the long term than the risk free rate, we have passed the first hurdle. Next we compare our investment with our other investment alternatives.

If you can’t value a company or do not feel confident about your estimates, then skip that company and find an easier one to value.

In the stock market no one forces you to invest. Focus on those companies you can evaluate.

One way to win in the stock market game is to fly a little below the radar, to buy share in smaller companies where the big boys dimply can’t play.  So investing in smaller capitalization stocks is a game involving thousands of companies worldwide, and most institutions are too big to play.

So not having billions of dollars to invest is a great way to gain an edge over the big Wall Street firms. Also, find 6 to 10 companies where you have a high degree of condidence in the prospects for future earnings, growth rates, and new industry developments.

According to Buffett, “We believe that a policy of portfolio concentration may well decrease risk if it raises, as it should, both the intensity with which an investor thinks about a business and the comfort level he must feel with its economic characteristics before buying into it.”

Besides going small (small-cap), go off the beaten path. Special situations is a anrea where knowing where to look, rather than extraordinary talent, is the most important part of finding bargains in some of these less well followed areas.

Spinoffs.  The lack of research and following creates an even greater potential for mispricing of the new shares.

Stocks emerging from bankruptcy.  Again, unwanted and unanalyzed stocks create a greater chance for mispriced bargains.

Restructings, mergers, liquidations, asset sales, distributions, rights offerings, recapitalizations, options, smaller foreign securities, complex securities, and many more.

Investors who are willing to do a little work have plenty of ways to gain an advantage by simply changing the game.

If you can’t do it yourself then you can choose:

Actively or passively managed mutual funds.

Most actively managed mutual funds charge fees and expenses based on the size fo the fund, usually 1 to 2 percent of the total assets under management.

Invest in index funds. However, there are problems with index investing, and
congratulations to Greenblatt for developing and explaining these problems in
terms that most investors understand. As you read this book, you will come to
appreciate the difference between market-weighted (“capitalization” weighted)
funds, equally-weighted funds and “fundamentally-weighted” funds. The
differences are not trivial, yet most investors are unaware of them.

Use Greenblatt’s approach, developed and explained in his book. However, I will say that his “value-weighted” approach, which amounts to giving more weight to investments that appear more attractively priced (lower price/earnings ratios, etc.), makes sense for many investors.

Two stand-out ideas from the book: 1) value-weighted index investing and
2)always have a core position invested at all times, which based on your market
outlook you can add or subtract to it by a given amount on rare occasions (if
you have no idea what I’m talking about–Get This Book). If retail investors
were to follow this advice to the letter, they would see their returns and peace
of mind increase dramatically, the latter being more important to overall
well-being.   (Amazon reviews)


[1] Using 6 percent as a minimum threshold to beat, regardless of how low government rates go, should give us added confidence that we are making a good long term investment. (This should protect us if low government bond rates are not a permanent condition.)

END

 

Readers’ Questions

Flasher

In the second decade of the twenty-first century, America is faltering under the weight of a dual crisis. Its public sector teeters on the ragged edge of political dysfunction and fiscal collapse. At the same time, its private enterprise foundation has morphed into a speculative casino which swindles the masses and enriches the few. These lamentable conditions are the Janus-faces of crony capitalism–a mutant regime which now threatens to cripple the nation’s bedrock institutions of political democracy and the free market economy.

….Once the Fed plunged into the prosperity management business under Greenspan and Bernanke, however, the subordination of public policy to the pecuniary needs of Wall Street became inexorable. No other outcome was logically possible given Wall Street’s crucial role as a policy transmission mechanism and the predicate that rising stock prices would generate a wealth effect and thereby levitate the national economy. — David A. Stockman (former Budget Director under Reagan and a former Partner of Blackstone Group) from The Great Deformation, The Corruption of Capitalism in America.

READERS QUESTIONS

Reader Question #1:  What Accounting Books Do You Suggest? I want to improve my intermediate level of understanding so I am ready for my investment analyst internship.

My reply: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/?category_id=394924

Buy and work through the problem sets. Accounting problems must be done rather than reading texts because then the concepts will sink in.

Also, to combine that with analyzing financial statements, read http://seekingalpha.com/article/1019951-book-review-what-s-behind-the-numbers

Interview of the writer: http://www.businessinsider.com/whats-behind-the-numbers-a-chat-with-john-del-vecchio-2012-10

Companion website for the book: http://deljacobs.com/

Also, look at: http://www.footnoted.com/report

http://www.accountingobserver.com/PublicBlog/tabid/54/Default.aspx

http://www.offwallstreet.com/research.html Go download several research reports then obtain the particular annual report and study the numbers. Do you agree with the analyst’s report on the company? Study cases.

Financial Shenanigans by Schillit. His books are great for practicing your financial statement skills to undercover weaknesses and strengths.

Also, view short seller blogs like www.brontecapital.com

Reader Question #2: How to begin?

My reply: Investing for beginners:

Obtain a few of these books on the cheap to get a perspective. Then find an industry like beer, soda or trash hauling (one that you can easily understand) and order the annual reports, then pick a company and go through the numbers with your books at your side to look up what you don’t understand. Go back and forth and note your questions. Try to find answers for those questions.

http://www.fwallstreet.com/intro/

http://www.classicvalueinvestors.com/

Wall Street on Sale by Timothy Vick (A good book but perhaps out of print?)

The Little Book of Value Investing by Christopher Browne

The Little Book that Builds Wealth by Pat Dorsey (A good intro to franchises)

Reader’s Question #3: How Do you Invest in Gold Mining Stocks?

My reply: Very carefully………….

GOLD

Dr. Ron Paul was interviewed by Fox after the U.S. Federal Reserve confirmed it will continue its QE program highlights the importance of gold as money.

On July 13, 2011, when Dr. Paul was a U.S. Congressman he asked U.S. Fed Chairman, Ben Bernanke, “Do you think gold is money?” and Bernanke replied, “No, it’s a precious metal.”

Dr. Paul countered, “Even though it’s been used for 6,000 years?” But Bernanke denied gold was money and said, “No, it’s an asset. Just like T-Bill’s are not money.”

The Fox News interviewer then commented, “Cyprus has taught us that governments can confiscate money that you’ve earned or even paid taxes on. Rampant quantitative easing and price fixing by governments may prop up the stock markets but it doesn’t keep unemployment down. The U.S. Fed is going to continue its QE program which is good for gold.”

goldcore_bloomberg_chart4_21-03-13

First, I do not want this subsection to be more than 35% of my portfolio, then I want 12 to 15 companies for maximum specific company risk diversification, then I have a range of low cost producers like Yumana, Eldorado then Streamers (Royalty Companies) like Royal Gold and Silver Wheaton, then more obscure, smaller companies that are beginning their production.

I suggest visiting www.goldstockanalyst.com Listen to all the audios and videos. Read: GSA_2012_User_Guide and GSA_sanfranpresentation  

Also, a book, Investing in Resources: How to Profit from the Outsized Potential and Avoid the Risks by Adrian Day

Go to www.kitco.com and listen to the investors, miners and analysts of the mining industry.

From GSA:

Investors must choose from two major groups: Explorers, of which probably 1,000 are publicly owned and Producers, of which only about 50 trade in North American stock markets.

To this latter group, we can add near-Producers, miners that have taken a deposit through the bankable feasibility stage and an independent engineering firm’s analysis has shown that:

1)      drill holes are close-enough spaced to have high confidence about the ore grades in-between the holes and thus justify the Proven and Probable Reserves (P+P) classification, and

2)      that the capital investment required to put the site into production will yield a profit, or economic return. Just as an independent auditor’s sign-off on a company’s financial statement is critical for investors, so too is an independent engineering firm’s sign-off on the deposit’s economics, and it’s required by the US SEC for a miner to be able to call its ounces in the ground P+P Reserves.

Gold Stock Analyst only follows producers and near-producers as they are the only miners with data confirmed by 3rd parties and thus have solid numbers that can be analyzed.

The Gold mining industry is unique. All the miners produce exactly the same final output, ounces of Gold. Unlike Coke and Pepsi, they spend nothing trying to tell consumers that their Gold is the best. The miners simply accept the current Gold price when they sell. With all ounces the same, and selling for the same price, one might think the stock prices would reflect similar valuations for Miner A’s ounces versus Miner B’s ounces. But, in fact, the stock market is not efficient and the valuations can vary widely. This gives an opportunity for investors.

The gold stock analyst uses three filters:

  1. Market Cap/oz P + P Reserves
  2. Mkt.. Cap/Oz Production
  3. Operating Cash Flow Multiple

Essentially, you can use his filters to pick your own gold and silver stocks. I monitor some of the well-known gold and value investors like Sprott, First Eagle Fund, Van Eck, Tocqueville and note some of their holdings, then I run the numbers and compare. I want to buy the cheapest ozs of gold (producing or in the ground) that I can with management that has been successful before and with a decent balance sheet or highly probably access to the capital markets.  Many junior gold mining companies are going to go bust due to the prior boom creating over-capacity (too many mining promoters or two guys and a mule with pick and shovel) and to tight financing conditions today. Great conditions for those companies that survive.

By the way, here is one gold bug who will not hire MBAs:

http://www.kitco.com/news/video/show/on-the-spot/55/2012-10-25/There-Will-Be-Panic-Into-Gold-Casey-Research   (see 4 minute 30 second mark)

Interviewer: Do they need a good degree to work at your shop (www.caseyresearch.com)?

Doug Casey, “We don’t care if someone has an MBA or college. We don’t care whether they went to college. We ask, “Do they have good character, intelligence, diligence, are they hard working and do they want to improve themselves? I don’t see how a college degree has anything to do with that, especially what they are teaching today—gender studies, etc. If someone comes to work for us today with an MBA, we look at them and say, What’s going on in your head that you allocated $100,000 and two years of your life to get more theory instead of doing in the real world.

….be careful.

Reader’s Question on Arbitrage

Testtost

 Reader’s Question

Please post your question rather than email directly to me (unless you do not get a response within two days) because (1) Other readers probably have similar questions and (2) your email may go into spam or be overlooked.

Don’t be embarrassed. If you ask, “What is a balance sheet?” I won’t give you the answer but I will tell you where to look and how to learn on your own.

Question

I’ve mentioned this before but I’m an avid reader of the blog. I’m currently going through your old posts one by one and learning a lot. Yours is one of 2 or 3 other blogs that I am reading the archives.

My question is about arbitrage (tenders and merger arb). I’ve been reading through Buffett’s old letters and in the late 1980’s he had quite an impressive run with his arbitrage investments (I think in 1987 he made around 80% on his arb investments).

Both he and Graham seem to have had long time success for decades using merger arb and other arbitrage techniques. Buffett mentioned in one of his letters that during the 63 years that Graham, Buffett LTD, and Berkshire practiced arbitrage, they made 20% annually on that strategy.

I’m wondering how often you employ any of these strategies in your portfolio? I’m also wondering if it’s more valuable to spend time working on tradition valuations of companies before treading into this highly specialized area? I think you mentioned you look for liquidations when the market gets too high, which I would group into this special situations category. It seems like a specialized area, but also seems like an area that would add uncorrelated returns to the portfolio, and serve as a great substitute for cash when markets begin to become overvalued.

Would love to hear your thoughts on merger arb if you have time… Thanks

My Reply

First, you should learn about arbitrage because all investing involves some form of arbitrage. Typically, the average investor takes an immediate to 6 month view but value in equities must be measured over the company lifetime (equities are perpetual securities) so value investors use time arbitrage to benefit. Also, spin-offs are one area to find uneconomic selling. Pursue your studies.

Read Klarman’s book Margin of Safety, Greenblatt’s Genius Book, Berkshire’s letters and then look at past deals. Then go where you have the least competition–micro-caps going private, liquidations, etc.  Oddball Stocks is one blog and there are others to learn from.

I am opportunistic, but I have found over the past few years there has been so much money with low-to-zero interest rates competition that the spreads have been too narrow. Then when there were deals like Burlington Northern buyout from Berkshire back in 2009, the spreads were OK–18% annualized but at that time you could buy MMM at or under $50.

MMM

Pursuing merger arb depends upon your opportunity set. Also, don’t compete against the big trading desks on Wall Street–it isn’t worth the risk/reward.

I had a successful merger arb in Burlington Northern but I took my eye off ball in not investing more in the obvious. If I bought around $50 to $55 per share, today I would have a 5% growing dividend yield and a double plus tax deferral.

Today, I feel the environment for many stocks is like this:

However, there are sectors like small gold and silver mining stocks that are in a huge bear market–and for good reasons–but there are opportunities in the areas with the most hatred and plunging prices. Meanwhile the mania in cloud stocks like CRM continues.

There have been companies like NVDA and Intel that offer a more than fair price, but risks are higher than owning a NVR or SYK in the $50s.  My first goal is to find compounders–franchises that can compound capital over time (rare), then buy franchises at slight discounts (20% to maybe 30%) and sell when the margin of safety disappears like today with NVR.  Then I look for special situations or net/nets.

You have to be flexible and go where you find opportunity but understand the drawbacks of each approach and your own limitations.  So recently, I have few special situations in my portfolio but that shouldn’t stop you from pursuing special sits. Just know why you have an edge.

Good luck.

 

Learning from Money Managers – VALUE VAULT Folder

 

Divert

Human beings are subject to wild swings
in their levels of fear, risk tolerance and
greed. That won’t change. I base my
whole approach on buying when others
are fearful and selling when others are
greedy. The reason Shakespeare is so relevant
still today is that his plays were all
about human nature, and human nature
never changes.
Mark Sellers, 6.19.05

In the folder below there are interviews with hundreds of money managers. Try to find ideas that are relevant to your style.

 

 

JCP IS GOING DOWN FASTER THAN OPRAH on a BAKED HAM

JCP

JCP dropped below $17 for about a 20% decline. More than 15% of its float has traded in less than 24 hours. 30% of the float is short.

Where to find maximum pessimism and hatred:

Here are the headlines.

“Simply stunning results” from J.C. Penney (JCP), says Tiburon Research’s Rob Wilson, quickly…

  • Wednesday, February 27, 4:58 PM ET

Sales Sink, Stock Gets Hammered in After-hours Trading (Reuters)

Feb. 27, 2013,  4:44 PM  More on J.C. Penney’s (JCP) Q4: No sigh of relief for investors just yet as the firm reports comparable store sales fell 31.7%, below the consensus call of -26.9%. Customer are fleeing, but no give up from CEO Ron Johnson: “…we are energized by our shop roll out plans.” Gross margin was crushed, falling to 23.8% of sales vs. 30.2% last year. Internet sales slumped again, losing 34.4% Y/Y just marginally better than last quarter’s 37% nosedive. Cash position $930M at end of Q4. No guidance is issued, but the retailer says it will open 20 shops geared toward home products in 505 stores with brand partners. JCP -4.4% AH. (PR) Read comments

·         Shareholders need to revolt aggressively (Yahoo poster 6 PM 2/27/13)

The Board needs to fire Ron Johnson tonight. They need to then hirte a trustee to rebuild it and then resign en masse for hiring this imbecile. First rule of retail: Don’t f it up!   Kill the BOD and Johnson NOW.

Ron Johnson couldn’t sell pus*y to a troop train. How many times will we sell retailers fail due to hiring rock star leadership who is so arrogant to turn away from the existing customers without attracting any replacements? Just desserts Ron. Eat #$%$.  Ron is a $%^&*! piece of $%^&!

Where is the class action shareholder lawsuit ? Will RJ fly home tomorrow on the corporate jet ? Will he still be racking up insane bills at the Ritz ?

Can you feel the love?  Yes, investors are upset, but do you read any deep analysis as to the value of the company?

What happened in this situation–Dillards (DDS)? Perhaps a case study is in order.  Ron Johnson is a genius at $40 and now at $17 he receives death threats. I have never seen a turn-around take less than 36 months. Let’s check back in 2014.

Daillard 2001

Dillards monetized some of its real estate assets through a REIT.

http://finance.fortune.cnn.com/2011/01/20/dillards-strikes-real-estate-gold/

http://retailtrafficmag.com/retailing/analysis/dillards_reit_play_01262011/

I am not implying that JCP should do the same, but I recon there is a reason JCP has not dropped below $14 per share even in the dark days of 2009.    Can the massive hate and fear take us to new lows? Not, if it doesn’t happen in the next month.

Dr. Henry Singleton, The SULTAN of Buybacks

singletonAny student of investing would do well to supplement his study of Buffett with the below case study on Henry Singleton. Guess who learned and copied Singleton in how he managed Berkshire Hathaway?

One investor, Leon Cooperman, helped his career enormously by investing and staying with his Teledyne investment.

Case Studies:

PS: A reader delved in the book on Teledyne’s history by interlibrary loan. The book, A Distant Force recounts a manager’s experience with Teledyne.

 A reader writes, “I came across this website in a recent HBR entry discussing the Mittlesland which was really thought provoking and adds a tilt to our competitive analysis studies…”
They use case studies!
Thanks for that reader’s generous sharing of ideas and links.

Have a Great Weekend!

Case Study on Dell

Least Resisitance

Dell Case Study

Stop the presses! Before reading Longleaf’s valuation of Dell (linked below), go to the 2009 and 2013 Value-lines and value Dell with a back of the envelope calculation using a post-tax free cash flow yield as one signpost.

What do you think Dell is worth—about?  What do you think of the valuations mentioned in this article? Does growth have value? Why or why not?

Do you have any criticisms?  What in Michael Dell’s prior history makes you (perhaps) not surprised by his current actions? Would you have factored that into your pre-announcement valuation?  How?  Should Dell offer to do a Tender Offer for the shareholders?  If the price callapsed to $9 or $10 based on the deal being pulled what would you do?

Case Study Materials: Dell_VL_2009     Dell_VL_2013   Dell_Valuation_and_Tender_Offer_Case Study

Longleaf Protests: Dell-Board-Letter_by_Longleaf

DELL_Morn: Background on Dell

I will put in my two cents next week in the comments section.  Email prizes awarded.

Update Feb. 11, 2013: Corporate BS: http://covestreetcapital.com/Blog/?p=828

 

Common Sense Words about America (not political)

 See what independent thinking, love of history and knowledge plus GUTS can do…..

The Actual Speech:

To Get Big Think Small; Lies of the Bailout

DIKE

To Get Big Think Small

I am having difficulty finding value, so now I gotta go small. More on micro-cap investing…..Liquidity as an Investing Style and Microcap_Investing and then More_on_Microcap_Investing.  If you can accurately value a business while the company’s stock price is volatile, then you have a gold mine. Smaller companies tend to be more OVER and UNDER-VALUED than larger, well-known names.

Fat CatsSecrets and Lies of the Bailout

The federal rescue of Wall Street didn’t fix the economy – it created a permanent bailout state based on a Ponzi-like confidence scheme. And the worst may be yet to come

So what exactly did the bailout accomplish? It built a banking system that discriminates against community banks, makes Too Big to Fail banks even Too Bigger to Failier, increases risk, discourages sound business lending and punishes savings by making it even easier and more profitable to chase high-yield investments than to compete for small depositors. The bailout has also made lying on behalf of our biggest and most corrupt banks the official policy of the United States government. And if any one of those banks fails, it will cause another financial crisis, meaning we’re essentially wedded to that policy for the rest of eternity – or at least until the markets call our bluff, which could happen any minute now.

An excellent article that shows what has happened to our centrally-controlled, socialist, Ponzi financial system. Of course, the author does not point out the causes or remedies, but he does show the results of the bailout.

My favorite line:

We thought we were just letting a friend crash at the house for a few days; we ended up with a family of hillbillies who moved in forever, sleeping nine to a bed and building a meth lab on the front lawn.

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/secret-and-lies-of-the-bailout-20130104?print=trueor Crony_Finance_Rolling_Stone.

View these films: http://thebubblefilm.com/cast/jim-rogers/

Conventional Wisdom on Booms and Busts from a Value Guru

Ask yourself what have you learned from reading this article. What can you apply from his thoughts? Read here:  Ditto.

PS:I didn’t learn much. 50 seconds to the trash bin.

HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND.