Junior Golds Offer ‘Ridiculous’ Leverage

9 comments

(Following is the fifth in a series of article on gold by Chuck Cohen, a financial consultant and investor based in New York City. At bottom are some specific stock recommendations.)

Very few Americans own gold in any form. Even though gold’s price has risen each year since 2001, about the only time we hear gold mentioned is in the ubiquitous “cash for gold” TV commercials. Don’t you wonder who has any gold or jewelry left to sell?  The way it’s shunned, you might think gold causes swine flu or greenhouse emissions. It is most baffling to me to see our profligate nation diligently avoiding the most rewarding investment of the last decade.

detour-gold-small

Under the circumstances, it is hardly surprising that only a miniscule number of investors have ever ventured into the most speculative field of gold, the exploration companies. These small and unproven companies might have market capitalization of anywhere from $5 million to over $200 million. Some contain proven reserves, while some are still searching for the mythical El Dorado. But even to many gold experts and believers they remain intensely speculative and risky, perhaps leaving you to wonder, why bother? 

Here are some of the reasons often given for avoiding them. 

  • Only a tiny fraction of these properties ever get into production
  • They are vastly undercapitalized. Small diluting financings pop up more often than do the shares
  • Many are run by promoters who pump up the stock so they can unload their shares.

 They Mine Money

 Now there might be some truth in these claims if  these were ordinary times. But just consider that if you had applied these same arguments in the early 1990s, you would have missed out on the greatest speculative binge of our time – the technology-stock boom.  (Actually, most of us did miss it.) Few except for the true techies and the entrepreneurs who ran these companies really believed that these start-ups would ever succeed. But the shares of many of them increased in price a hundred-fold before the mania ended.

And that is what I expect this time, though to an even greater degree, since these companies are mining “money” in its most pristine form, and the wind is at their backs. Many will be virtual mints in a time of incredible paper currency turbulence and destruction. Yes, they are speculative, but I like the odds. Here is a very fundamental point in investing: The greatest gains have been in those investments that were shunned the most. As Mr. Buffett — Warren not Jimmy – likes to say when asked about his success, “I buy when everyone else in selling and sell when everyone is buying.”

Pac-Man Effect

Further details concerning these stocks and a sound investment strategy will be coming up next week. For now, though, you should know that: 

  • The gold grades in the world’s largest mines are persistently declining.
  • The much larger senior companies such as Newmont, Barrick and Goldcorp will need to buy more and more reserves. A Pac-Man syndrome or a swallowing up by the larger of the smaller is surely coming.
  • South African gold production continues to drop dramatically.
  • There is a continuing shortage of new gold production.
  • There have been very few major discoveries in the past 20 years.
  • Almost all of the successful drilling over the past 10-15 years has been done by these smaller companies.
  • Most of the top geologists have gone to these companies.
  • Management has a huge vested interest.  Most take little remuneration because they believe in their companies and are looking for the big payoff for their companies.
  • Few individual or institutional investors have any position in these companies.
  • The last two years pressured down the gold companies across the board as the liquidity squeeze proved particularly cruel to the smaller companies. To me this shows that they are still not a consideration in spite of the compelling evidence.
  • In spite of a move from $35 to nearly $1000 over almost 40 years, there has not been any lengthy move in the shares and no real sign of speculation.
  • They represent a perpetual option against the price of gold.
  • Many are selling for the equivalent of $50 per ounce in the ground. This carries a ridiculous leverage. If a company has a proven one million ounces in the ground and a $10 million market cap what is its true potential value?  It takes very little imagination to consider what their properties would be worth at $1500 or even $3000 gold.

 Some Stocks to Consider

Above all, there are the two overriding reasons to own gold — one fundamental, the other technical. Concerning the former, the monetary landscape and the certainty of more and more fiat money will keep the gold fires burning brightly. As for technical reasons, on the charts, gold has been consolidating for years to launch into a parabolic rally.

For your consideration, here are some specific stocks that I like:  San Gold (OTC: SGRCF); Detour Gold (OTC: DRGDF); Mauodore Minerals (Toronto; MAO); Golden Predator (OTC: GPRXF); Pediment Gold Corp (OTC: PEZGF); Great Basin Gold Ltd. (AMEX: GBG); Skygold (OTC: SKYVF): Moneta Porcupine (OTC: MPUCF); Midway Gold Corp (OTC: MDW), and Evolving Gold (OTC: EVOGF). There will be others that I plan to discuss shortly.

(If you’d like to have Rick’s Picks commentary delivered free each day to your e-mail box, click here. )

  • rich July 29, 2009, 2:36 pm

    Hmmm.
    The borrower still servant to the lender.
    That would be Uncle Sam with his taxpayer funded Treasury debt since 1913.
    DR, JR and the Bank cartel, RR and Armand Hammer beat the Africans, Arabs, Bache, Hunts, Japanese, Kidder Peabody, Phibro (Salomon) and Soviets into the ground, the soiled IBanks bribed Congress and SEC to repeal Depression regulations and rules, changed mark to market accounting rules to report record profits with free Fed and cheap Taxpayer money, the futures exchanges changed rules to suit themselves, while our economy contracted in excess of 10%, the definition of Depression, with China gagging on central planning and FXI a superb short from 42.95.
    Will someone please make a coherent persuasive argument with evidence for gold going up now? Or is this a faith healing forum?
    PS: Carolyn Hunt who stayed in cash came through 1980 well as interest rates soared to double digits.
    JubileeProsperity.com may show some more points of light, LOL…

  • Ross July 29, 2009, 12:03 am

    The banking cartel will never let gold go up to more than they want, they have to protect their fiat money.

    -I beg to differ. The banking cartel is in the process of getting its head handed to it. The stress tests are a farce as we shall see all in good time. We are in the midst of a gathering tsunami that is far more powerful than the banking cartel, and part of the effect of the grand tidal wave that is upon us will involve the end of “money” and markets as we have known them for a very long time.

    Remember the Hunt brothers in 1980! (Is there somebody who has the courage to write about it?) The government will change the margin requirement of gold future contracts and they will crush the price. And remember, Goldman Sachs controls the technical analysis: with trillions of taxpayers money and big computers you can change any charts. Two weeks ago we had a perfect head and shoulder….The short squeeze was created!! The free market does not exist anymore. Thanks to the Plunge Protection Team and Government Sachs.

    Ah, yes, the almighty Goldman Sachs will prevent anything deleterious from happening to their interests. The only problem with that logic where gold’s prospects are concerned is that GS may likely be riding herd on the inevitable parabolic spike in PMs. Remember, just as with MBS, they can and will play both sides of the market. Having said that, the path of least resistance for the ghastly Goldman Sachs is down. They have reached the apogee of their fetid influence what with their mammoth co-opting of the government.
    In stock terms, literally and figuratively, Goldman is the very definition of fully priced.

    Rick will be spared doing The Hula in Times Square.

  • Chris July 28, 2009, 6:56 pm

    Sure, I’ll write about it.
    The COMEX market was big and Hunt wanted to protect his wealth as he saw a situation like we have currently. (almost broke out into hyperinflation ath the end)He started buying silver futures As the silver price rose he parlayed his profits into more futures contracts. However, the millions and later billions he was making was being lost the the big banks on the other side of those contracts (like now) the price of silver started rising more and the big banks were logging losses of billions. So they had their buddies at COMEX raise the margin rates from 5% to 20%. That didn’t stop Hunt. COMEX raised rates again to 50% Hunt kept buying. Even at 75%. However when the margin was raised to 100% At that point, Hunt (wisely I might add) said fine. If I have to pay cash, I’ll take delivery. Now the bankers who only booked paper losses to this point would have to go into the market and buy silver to meet delivery demands (same situation today if everyone took delivery) which would crush them. The Ace in their sleeve came next. They had their buddies at COMEX (illegal, BTW) close the market to buy orders. Thats right. They would only take sell orders. Well gee, which way will the price go!!! The rest is history. Banks saved, Hunt’s ruined aand taught not to cross the bankers ever again.
    I think this time we will bust out into hyperinflation. Don’t take paper promises, only the metal itself.

  • rich July 28, 2009, 4:43 pm

    Out of obscurity to provide a counterpoint.
    SRs point prevails:
    Read Ayn Rand from Bolshevik Russia takeover, esp Atlas Shrugged.
    Having a mixed economy like being a little pregnant.
    We all know what happens.
    Eventually there are no free markets or freedoms left.
    No wonder so many are getting off the grid, out of the matrix.
    The 4 largest traders (banking cartel) on the COMEX are not long gold, folks.
    They are short gold 170%. They are short silver 390%.
    Until this changes, gold and silver are bucking a strong headwind, and juniors may continue to go down.

  • SR July 28, 2009, 11:23 am

    The banking cartel will never let gold go up to more than they want, they have to protect their fiat money. Remember the Hunt brothers in 1980! (Is there somebody who has the courage to write about it?) The government will change the margin requirement of gold future contracts and they will crush the price. And remember, Goldman Sachs controls the technical analysis: with trillions of taxpayers money and big computers you can change any charts. Two weeks ago we had a perfect head and shoulder….The short squeeze was created!! The free market does not exist anymore. Thanks to the Plunge Protection Team and Government Sachs.

  • Nitram July 28, 2009, 11:12 am

    Are there any mutual funds made up of juniors only? Now that would be a” fun- fund” to own. These are exciting times. Just look at the gold, dollar charts. Check out “FXP” a wild speculation.

    &&&&&

    None that I know of but if you look up Rob McEwan, former head of Goldcorp, you will see that he has a basket of juniors priced in an index and he is thinking of bringing it to market sometime in the future. Rob has been extremely prescient and one to follow. I don’t know FXP but I’ll look at it. Thanks. Chuck

  • Dusty July 28, 2009, 5:59 am

    PMFJI, but the gov’t would only confiscate gold if they were going back to the gold standard, where each dollar was backed by gold. I don’t think that is going to happen because that will prevent the gov’t from printing as much money as they want. As far as I can tell, all countries are using fiat currencies where the currency is not backed up with anything but good faith.

    If they did plan to confiscate gold, the gov’t would probably declare a bank holiday and then make the announcement. If people were foolish enough to hand over their gold, the gov’t would then later devalue the dollar so they can pay off their debts with nearly useless paper. Gold would of course have to change from say $1000/oz to perhaps $2500-$3500/oz literally overnight. The biggest losers will of course be the public because they get paper money for their gold and that will get devalued by 50% in just days. They will also lose out on the huge profits from gold. Other countries would see this coming and would dump the U.S.$ devaluing it even further.

    I don’t think gold confiscation will work because we are now an international community and the public can buy gold online and store it in a foreign country.

    The U.S. government right now is between a rock and a hard place. Inflation will rise late next year because of the trillions of extra dollars being printed. Normally the gov’t would increase interest rates to reign in inflation, but they can’t do that because that would burst the rest of the housing bubble because people can’t afford higher mortgage rates. Companies also can’t afford to pay for higher loans and may force them into bankruptcy. Higher interest rates also means the gov’t will have to pay higher rates on their treasuries which means they get deeper into debt. Don’t forget the gov’t is issuing debt in 2 year T bills and not 30 year bonds. No one is buying the bonds, so the gov’t in their infinite wisdom switched to T-Bills. But like I said, they are interest rate sensitive because they have to be re-issued every 2 years. The gov’t is forced to issue these T-Bills to pay for the interest on their existing debts. This is a lot like using your MasterCard to pay your Visa bill. It simply doesn’t work for very long.

    The only other alternative is to raise taxes dramatically, by at least 50%. This won’t be popular among voters and with politicians it is all about image and not substance. So raising taxes likely will not happen. It is like the guy said, “Please don’t raise my taxes, print more money instead!”. LOL The fool doesn’t realize that as the gov’t prints more money, everyone’s paper dollars will decrease in value. The U.S.$ today has the same buying power as 10 cents did in 1971 which is the year they went off the gold standard. So if you had $1million dollars in 1971 and kept it in the bank, it is now has the purchasing power of $100,000.

    The American gov’t is up to their eyeballs in debt and when foreign countries decide enough is enough and won’t buy their T-Bills or bonds any more, the sh*t will hit the fan. The U.S. dollar may lose its reserve status then countries will start trading in Euro’s or yuan, and I’m not talking just super models here. This will start a downward spiral of the U.S. dollar much like toilet paper circling the drain.

    And what caused all this? Well, the federal reserve by keeping the interest rates too low in 2000. And how is today’s government going to solve the problem? By keeping interest rates too low for the next few years. They are just inflating the bubble even more. When it bursts, the dollar will drop like a stone.

    Well, and the solution to all this? Owning commodities like gold, silver, oil, copper etc.. Ironically many people think that gold has sky rocketed in the past 30 years, from $35 to over a $1000. Actually the value of gold has remained constant. It is the dollar that has been dropping. Someone once said 1 oz of gold in Roman times would buy a thousand loaves of bread, and today it buys the same amount. Throughout history the value of gold has remained constant. It is just appears to change its value as worthless fiat currencies come and go.

    Just one guy’s opinion.
    Dusty

  • Linda Frey July 28, 2009, 3:21 am

    Chuck

    Great article !. What happens to folks gold shares that go parabolic if the dollar plumments ?

    I Have read on seeking alpha that the government will absolutly confiscate gold+ gold shares . Please advise .
    Thanks , linda

    &&&&&&

    Sorry for the delay. It is definitely a possibility that confiscation will come but that will be far down the road and there will be more fearful possibilities if that occurs. You should have some advanced warning, but if you have coins, I would keep them near you. Also, if gold goes parabolic then the shares will go up much more so. Thanks. Chuck

  • Brad WIlliams July 28, 2009, 2:42 am

    Please don’t forget Northgate Minerals. Symbol NXG.

    Thanks,
    Brad Williams

    &&&&&

    It’s not I don’t forget one like Northgate. I really don’t follow it so I don’t want to say anything unless I know it to some degree. Thanks though. Chuck


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