BILLABONG must be without doubt one of the worst run companies in Australia. I don’t just point at the spectacular share price decline to support that statement – think about the fundamental tailwinds they had. Billabong should have been in the fast lane of the two-speed economy. The mining boom has created a whole new genus in Australia, the Cashed-up Bogan and what does Billabong do best? It dresses bogans.
THOSE with hindsight like to scoff about the arrogance of the builders/designers of the Titanic and the fact that it didn’t have sufficient life boats for all on board. Given it was thought to be “unsinkable” it’s probably the case that the only reason it had any lifeboats at all was because it might have looked less “ocean-liner” like without them.
ARAM Shishmanian, the CEO of the World Gold Council, reckons if current trends continue that gold miners will need at least $US3000 gold prices just to stay in business. If you didn’t already know it you might be surprised to learn that the World Gold Council is an association whose 23 members comprise the world’s leading gold mining companies, representing about 60% of global corporate gold production. With friends like the World Gold Council, who needs enemies? Talk about savaging the hand that feeds you!
IN A recent article in the Sydney Morning Herald, ‘Getting to grips with the gold bug variations’ (see link below) Matthew Kidman opens with the claim, “There is not an analyst on the face of the Earth who can accurately value gold”. The implication seems to be that this is something unique to gold. I would challenge him to produce an analyst who has accurately and consistently predicted the future value of anything worth buying or trading.
I WROTE recently about what I referred to as the Producer Ponzi Premium, that is the potential premium on the gold price that exists/persists as a consequence of a series of major gold purchases, each executed in a very narrow time window, by major producers such as Newcrest, Lihir, Barrack, Anglo, etc over the past 4-5 years.
I HAVE a split personality when it comes to gold. I think everyone should own some gold but they should hope they never make any real money out of it.
WHEN I was a kid tattoos were something that was associated with sailors and bikers and the only tattooed ladies were in side show alley. Now it seems you can't go anywhere without seeing men and women from many different walks of life that are ‘inked’.
A NEW year is upon us and that means new year’s resolutions. I imagined mine would be the same as it has been for the last 10 years at least. I make it, I don’t achieve it, so it’s there to make all over again the next year – a very economical approach. Of course its real economy is that by being pre-set it removes any need for greater introspection or reflection that might occur without such a pre-set and well-worn resolution so close at hand.
JUST when it seemed that the whole European situation couldn't get any more farcical, in stepped Wayne and Julia to give those Frogs, Krauts and Breakfast Creeks a firm rebuke for not having come up with a solution already. Perhaps the fact they were about to preside over CHOGM had given them a sense that the world really was their stage. Whatever it was, I am betting that it had those European leaders all quaking in their boots.
I AM CONFUSED. Yes, yes I am confused most of the time about something but this confusion is quite specific. I am confused as to why “everybody” seems to know that the USD is dead, and that it is going to “hell in a hand basket”, but when I look at the charts I see such a different picture. To the guy down the back that says, “the Euro’s going to hell in a hand basket too”, implying that both of them are dying, my immediate response is simply this: LIFO. Which is one of the few things I remember from first year accounting.
AN open letter to the UHDFB (Friday, August 19th).
For some years now you have been promoting the fact that one of the key virtues of your company is that you are “unhedged and debt free”.
I AM 30,000 feet somewhere over the great Australian Bight in a Boeing 767 on my way to Perth to follow up on a conversation with a prospective customer that began at the Diggers & Dealers forum two weeks ago. Earlier today I had an invigorating conversation about a fabulous gold project with two guys I bumped into at the baggage carousel in Perth as we gingerly greeted the day after Diggers.
TRYING to make the news interesting every day must be a challenge. I have an informal commitment to write this column once a fortnight and I struggle to find something new (and hopefully interesting) to write about. Your mother probably told you if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing.
A COUPLE of weeks ago I attended the Resources and Energy Symposium in Broken Hill. Quite different in design to any other mining conference I have attended over the past two or more decades – its theme was built around a discussion on ideas and how the mining industry could ‘future proof’ itself. Of course there was the usual promotional spots for miners to sell their story, their individual future, (someone has to pay the bills) but there was also a range of very interesting and thought provoking speakers on current industry issues, growing threats and possible future scenarios.
ASK the CEO of an unhedged mining company what is the basis of that policy and the answer is nearly always the same: “Shareholders want exposure to the upside in the price of what they produce and hedging gives away the upside”. I have never met one who has polled shareholders on this but invariably they have a fund or two on the register, or promising to join, who actively encourage them not to.
I LOVE a good conspiracy as much as the next guy and we have plenty on the run at present. Osama bin Laden died years ago and president Obama chose now to stage the raid to save the USD and improve his chances of re-election; Dominique Strauss-Kahn (DSK to his mates) head of the IMF and presidential wannabe of France was framed in a “honey-pot sting” and didn't really try to assault a chambermaid; and my personal favourite … the world is running out of silver and so much so that it will be more scarce (and therefore logically more valuable) than gold.
APRIL 27: LAST week I drove about 2300km around New South Wales visiting a couple of mates on rural properties and doing a bit of camping and bush bashing with my youngest son. One simple pleasure of country driving in a diesel vehicle is being able to use the high-flow bowsers at truck-stops. Those suckers will fill an 80-litre tank in less than a minute.
I USED to think that Charlie Sheen was just playing himself in “Two and a Half Men”. Based on recent events it seems he’s a better actor than most of us thought. Charlie Harper, the character performed to the script given him, looks to be very different to Mr Sheen, performing to a script he wrote himself.
I SAW a presentation last week on Peak Oil given by Bruce Robinson of the Australian Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas. There was a great array of data among the 91 slides that made up the full presentation, all suggesting numerous other parties clearly support his view that we aren’t going to be able to replace with exploration, what we consume. Peak Oil is either here already or will be here soon.
NOT blessed with the looks of Ralph Fiennes I find it difficult to recall what I ever did on long plane flights before individual video screens. That said, on a recent trip to LA I couldn’t actually recall, by the end of the flight, all the movies I had watched on that flight. I had to revert to the program to remind myself. By the time I was home again I estimate I had watched over 10 movies and most tend to blend into a blur of clichés. One movie, however, was riveting.