Everywhere we look at the moment we see the market values of exploration and development companies of all shapes and sizes that don’t reflect even a sliver of the cash their assets might create if the world just stayed the same. Why is it so?
Mining is a risky business. How risky depends on many things. Sometimes I think for mining equity investors it’s a bit like betting on a game of Russian Roulette being played by the CEO. Investors of course must also remember that ‘death’ for the player is often much less painful than it is for them.
Much has been written in the past week or so about the presentation made at the recent Denver Gold Forum by Paulson and Co partner, Marcelo Kim. In short, Kim took aim at outrageous amounts of CEO pay at the big end of the gold mining industry despite the parlous shareholder returns and various investment blunders delivered by most of that same group.
The vast majority of gold mining companies globally make a very big thing about being non-hedgers. They have it on their website home page and it often features heavily in all investor communications. Rather like the shop windows that have the “no cash kept on premises”, they are strongly declaring no “financial derivatives inside”.
Over the past four to five years there has been a stark and growing difference between the way in which Australian and North American gold mining companies sell their gold and manage the associated risks of having high and largely fixed costs, and often high debt, against a totally variable, market driven, revenue line.