In July 2008, then Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson touched off the greatest banking crisis of our generation stretching back to the 1930’s. On Sunday, July 20th 2008 before the markets opened in Asia, the Treasury Secretary of the United States stepped in to guarantee the US bond portfolio owned by China. Earlier that same day he had commented on national TV,
“I think it's going to be months that we're working our way through this period, clearly months. Of course the list [of difficulties] is going to grow longer given the stresses we have in the marketplace, given the housing correction - but again, it's a safe banking system, a sound banking system. Our regulators are on top of it. This is a very manageable situation.”
We have now spent 72 months - or 6 years - in the economic malaise that followed the US housing bubble’s implosion.
By Chris Berry
- On Monday, the Wall Street Journal published an article titled “Commodities Rally is Half Baked” (sub, req’d).
- There are a number of reasons for this, but clearly excess supply is the main culprit.
- Not all commodities have under performed, however, and uranium offers an interesting and painful case study into how to equilibrate supply and demand.
An Unfortunate Validation of Our Thesis
Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal published an article titled “Commodities Rally is Half Baked” (sub, req’d). The gist of the article is that while 2014 started off as a positive year for commodity returns in general, the tide has turned and many commodities (as measured by various indexes) are now under performing the typical equity index as the latter continue to reach all time highs.
By Chris Berry
Despite their small size (in terms of yearly production) relative to base metals or fertilizers, many of the Energy Metals which I follow continue to make their strategic significance felt. We have talked a great deal in recent months about global excesses in labor and capital putting a “lid” on commodity demand. A confluence of geopolitical and economic issues has come to the fore which has only, I think, strengthened this thesis but has also paradoxically helped Energy Metals reassert their significance in global supply chains.
When it Happens…It’ll Happen Fast
The phrase above was said to me once by a money manager commenting on one of the main questions we have been asking ourselves in recent months. Namely, “When will this cycle turn?” With respect to Energy Metals, we could very well be at that tipping point.
By Chris Berry
Last week, TSLA released its Q2 2014 earnings. As a proponent of disruptive business models and the raw materials necessary to enable the upheaval, I always listen with rapt attention. The earnings of $0.11 per share on net income of $16 million (non-GAAP), and a loss of $0.50 per share on net income of $62 million (GAAP) were enough to satisfy the market and after a brief dip in after hours trading, the share price rebounded strongly.
As is the case with many of the early-stage companies I follow, I’m more interested in production metrics, though revenue here is accelerating, indicating that TSLA is having no problem selling its cars. I’m willing to tolerate negative earnings and cash flow as long as the company is investing in future growth and increasing sales.
This is clearly the case with TSLA which reported record production (8,763 Model S) and deliveries (7,579 Model S) in Q2 and is on track for more than 35,000 deliveries in 2014 with the stated goal of 100,000 deliveries by the end of 2015. Additionally, with a Cap Ex guidance of $850 million, TSLA has a Cap Ex/Sales ratio of over 20% - unparalleled in the automotive business according to the FT. The next closest is Jaguar at 12%. TSLA is clearly a company in its early growth phase.
Rather than dissect the numbers here, I think it’s important to look at the main takeaways from the call and consider any questions that arise for the company as they continue on an exciting journey to revolutionize the automotive and energy storage businesses.
By Chris Berry
After a recent slump, solar power has shown tremendous growth. Global photovoltaic (PV) capacity is 139 Gigawatts (GW) as of the end of 2013 and another 44.5 GW is forecast to be added in 2014. One GW is enough electricity to power between 750,000 and 1,000,000 US homes. The 44.5 GW mentioned above is almost a 21% increase y-o-y and equals the output of 10 nuclear reactors, according to Bloomberg.
Overcapacity has resulted from government subsidies and has served to push panel prices down, helping to make solar more cost competitive with other fossil-fuel based sources of electricity. Dozens of panel makers still exist which implies further consolidation in the industry despite the projections mentioned above.
We are focused on finding value along supply chains across an entire industry and to that end the solar panel manufacturing business offers an interesting case study in finding value in a global “low growth” or “slow growth” environment. One of the key questions for market participants is “how will a panel manufacturer compete and thrive in a hyper competitive industry despite the rosy growth prospects?” Price declines and competition will hurt margins which in turn have the potential to impact investment returns.
The key is solar cell efficiency.
By Chris Berry
A Major Hurdle Cleared
When I wrote about EMC Metals (EMC:TSXV, EMMCF:OTCBB) last month, the main issue facing the company was clear: raise approximately $2.6 million by the end of June or risk losing control of the Nyngan scandium deposit. This $2.6 million was broken down in two pieces: AUD $1.4 million was due to EMC's former JV partner to complete the buyout of the JV and award EMC 100% ownership of the Nyngan deposit. In addition to this, $1.2 million was outstanding on a promissory note held by investors close to the company which was due at the end of this month and used Nyngan as collateral. Should EMC fail to raise sufficient funds, they risked losing control of Nyngan.
This would have been significant for a number of reasons including the fact that the deposit is truly world class - a phrase I despise, but I can't think of another way to describe it.