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July 2007



Copper $1.50 Next Year?

July 29, 2007 – Comments (10)

 Buggy Fool, it does not show the pictures.  To see the post with the graphs see my blog at Makingsenseofmyworld.  [more]



Exploring Declining Grade

July 26, 2007 – Comments (4)

In 1905 the Bingham Canyon mine opened mining a copper grade of 2%.  Last year the grade they mined was 0.63% and the reserves they have left to mine have a grade of 0.54%.  In 2003 Goldcorp’s Red Lake mine mined a gold grade of 77.5 g/ton, and 28 g/ton in 2006.  These are a couple examples of a trend of declining grade in individual mines and within the industry as a whole as the best deposits tend to be mined first.  This post looks at declining grade in a single mine.  I suspect that declining grade affects costs exponentially rather than linearly, and I examine that next post.  [more]



The Sky is Falling...

July 24, 2007 – Comments (3)

One of the indicators I follow is the US dollar indicator.  You can see it on Kitco's all metals quote page,, on the left under indicators.  [more]



Did Google Miss Targets?

July 19, 2007 – Comments (0)

Will common sense prevail?

 Google Googlplexed



Screening Commodity Stocks

July 18, 2007 – Comments (2)

I want to come up with a set of rules to essentially screen stock them according to some unwritten criteria that I currently follow. This post is a walk through and see if I can put that screening criteria into “rules” that work for me.  So, what have I been looking at?  [more]



The end of first year

July 17, 2007 – Comments (4)

Today marks the end of my first year on the stock market.  And what a year it has been.  I think I broke every business advice investment rule they give you, and it worked for me.  [more]



IXYS - The beginning of an implosion?

July 13, 2007 – Comments (3)

An online acquaintance asked me to check this one out and there were things I found that I did not like.

First, from the Mar/07 financial information gross profit, or operating margin, declined from 31.6% the prior year to 24.1%.  Consider that an implosion of sorts...

The next thing I didn't like was in the year prior the operating margin was $20.4 million yet they managed $30.3 million in earnings, or $0.85/share.  That tells me something happened to grossly inflate the earnings wrt to the company's true earning potential.  My limited experience tells me this kind of thing turns out very poorly for investors.  All those investment tools investors use very wrong numbers compared to the reality of the company.

And yikes, out of the $17.9 million operating margin, only $755,000 made it to earnings, or 2c/share.

Next, there was a one time only $29.4 million gain in 2006.  Without that the operating income would have been $20 million.  Take off another $7.5 million for interest expense and adjusted taxes and you get $12.5 million of earnings.  Just using ratios, without that extraordinary item eps would have been about 36c for the year, about 4% and a P/E of 25.

That latest 2c eps extrapolates forward to a shudder in your footsteps P/E of 113.  Yuck.

Just to get a clearer picture of how this one is trending, the year before also had an extraordinary item which gave 42.8 million in extra expense or loss.  So, before taxes without this item you'd have seen $25.8 million in operating income for the year before.

The year before there were no extraordinary items and the operating income was $25.6 million.

So, a three year picture, using my corrections for those extraordinary items would be the operating income for 2005 was 10.0% of the total revenue.  For 2006 the $25.8 million operating income is 10.3%.  For 2007 it is 7.0%, a huge decline, (10.3/7)-1 = 47%.

They have reported margins from 2003 that go 21.1%, 23.2%, 31.1%, 32.5% and this last year 29.5%.

The press release blames increase bad debt, which if you dig into the financial reports was $1.3 million.  It also said they had more inventory write-offs, an additional $3 million.   

Over the last five years the number of shares as increased by 13%.  Not hugely excessive, but what did shareholders get for that dilution?  If you read the press releases about share buy backs wouldn't you expect to see less shares?  Actually, the share count in millions from 2003 went 30.9, 32.4, 35.1, 33.6, 34.8, so 3.4% increase in share count from 2006 to 2007 when they have a share buy back program happening?

Seriously, $18 million spent on a share buyback, that should be about 2 million shares less.

They add an extra 1 million shares per year to those available for options.  That's in the range of 3%.  Consider inflation to be 3%, that means earning need to increase by 3% per year to keep up with the time value of money.  At 3% you essentially break even.  Well, with 3% dilution per year you need to increase earnings by an additional 3% to break even, or essentially you need 6% earnings.  Alternatively you could hope that they keep 1 million times the share price available for share buybacks every year to pay for the true cost of the options.  At the current price that's 3.2% of last year's total sales, and 3.2/29.5= 11% of the operating margin or gross profit.

The financial reports show 35 million shares as of March 31, 2007 and 5 million available to grant for options and 4.5 million options granted outstanding.  That's 32% of existing hidden dilution.

I'm looking back at some of their plans.  They had a plan to offer $60 million of convertible senior notes and use part of the proceeds to buyback $20-30 million of its common stock.  Help me to understand that this wasn't anything but a scam the retail investor plan to pump up the share price?  I don't get how that adds value for investors in any way.  You are buying shares on one hand and issuing them probably cheaper through convertible debt.  Institutions usually want some kind of premium for their backing.  It serves no purpose except to temporarily pump up the share price.  I take that to mean someone is looking for a handsome, stick it to the retail investor, exit price.

And what else, oh yeah, the outlook is that sales should decline by 3-6%.  

Guidance lowered  [more]



Looking at lead - Part 2

July 05, 2007 – Comments (2)

Blue Note  [more]



Looking at lead - Part 1

July 05, 2007 – Comments (0)

Lead has reached an all time high, about 6 times its low since the start of this bull run.  It is a strong price, but it isn’t as strong as say molybdenum which peaked about 18 times its low, or nickel, which peaked at around 12 times its low, or uranium which is about 15 times its low.  Strong lead prices will mean unexpected profits for lead producers.  [more]



I'm a banking bear

July 01, 2007 – Comments (1)

I was asked why I rated Citigroup, a banking stock that is paying a 4.2% dividend and has a P/E of 11.39 as under perform and I thought it a question exceptionally worthy of an answer.   [more]

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