Most investors read a company’s news releases, but don’t read between the lines to understand in which direction the company is heading. Too often, a company tries to say everything in the headline and the first paragraph. Why? Because they know, as we do, that most investors scan the headline, a few sentences and perhaps look at some drill intercepts or key technical data (which few really understand). Then, the investor looks at how the share price reacts to the news, rejoicing or complaining on a stock chat board. Often, key phrases or sentences are buried inside the release, sometimes near the bottom. These may give you a clue as to what is really happening with the company.
We pulled up some recent news releases of several uranium companies we have been following to help investors read between the lines. Only a keen, ruthless appraisal of each news release, or a series of their news releases, could give you an accurate interpretation of how well the company is doing. Hopefully, the guidance which follows may help you better understand what is really going with a company’s plans.
Northwestern Mineral Ventures (TSX-V: NWT; OTCBB: NWTMF) announced on Thursday the completion of its airborne survey. It also announced multiple potential uranium targets in the country of Niger (Africa). Reading an earlier interview we conducted with Dr. John North, a director of this company, he told us, “There appear to be no scarcity of drill targets on the concessions.” So what was the big news? The CEO announced they had “identified several near-surface targets with significant uranium mineralization potential.” That wasn’t the news. Not even close. They already knew that!
The company covered 24,000 line kilometers, more than 14,000 miles. Their first pass-through was cherry picking. The real news was buried in the third paragraph, “…a second airborne survey to further delineate areas with strong uranium potential is expected to commence in the summer.” That should pick out the strongest targets for drilling at a later phase of the company’s exploration. That line also told us they had very encouraging news. If the second airborne confirms strong uranium potential, raising money to push the project through into drilling and advanced exploration will come more easily.
Forsys Metals Corp (TSX: FSY) announced on May 28th a new “detailed drilling” program on the company’s Valencia uranium deposit in Namibia (Africa). Closely spaced reverse circulation drilling will help add more “measured” resource to the company’s feasibility study. Increasing the measured resource will make it easier for the company to raise the money to develop a uranium mine or sell its deposit to a major company. Sounds good, but a news article Forsys Metals posted on its website was of greater interest to us.
A major hurdle in further developing the low grade uranium deposits in Namibia is water. These projects are in a desert. You need water, lots of it, to mine. On May 26th, The Namibian newspaper ran a very encouraging article – good news not only for the Rossing mine, but also for Forsys Metals and UraMin (which also hopes to start mining uranium in Namibia). What was the news? At a breakfast meeting on water conservation and management hosted by the Namibia Economic Society (NES) on Wednesday, NamWater CEO Vaino Shivute, announced, “The desalination plant is back on the table. We are looking into it again how to restart it, look at the problems of the past and learn from that.” With the water issue on its way to a possible resolution, we expect stronger interest in Namibia.
Energy Metals Corporation (TSX: EMC.TO) announced it would commence trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Thursday. EMC Chief Executive Paul Matysek’s quote spelled it out, that because of this it would be possible for “… the Company to reach a broader base of individual investors, mutual funds and institutional investors.” In other words, there would be less dependence upon the retail investor, and more reliance on the big funds to pile into EMC shares. Of course, the little guy will join the party as well.
UR-Energy Inc (TSX: URE.TO) issued a series of news releases between June 5th and Thursday, announcing a number of significant developments. First, they confirmed their uranium resources on their two primary properties, Lost Creek and Lost Soldier, in Wyoming, by filing National Instrument 43-101 documents. Both resources were higher than the historical resource estimates. Second, the company confirmed the leachability of uranium on its Lost Soldier property.
Why is that important? Without the ability to leach the uranium through an In Situ Recovery project, the company would have been forced to raise the money for a far more expensive open pit operation. In an earlier interview, Chief Executive Bill Boberg told us the permeability would be a “go, no-go” consideration on the project. It appears it is a go. Thursday’s news release confirmed that, but buried in the bottom of the news release was a more telling news item. The company is conducting environmental, hydrologic and engineering studies to “generate baseline data.”
During the course of our research in Wyoming, we discovered a company must provide at least one year of baseline data before it can submit its application for a permit to mine in that state. The other piece of data in the news release showed UR-Energy has been working on this and expected to submit its application by mid 2007. In other words, the company is quickly moving forward to establish its In Situ Recovery operation.
Uranerz Energy (OTC BB: URNZ) issued a few telling news releases, which may explain the direction in which they are heading. On June 5th, the company announced a new Chief Financial Officer. URNZ also announced it had closed a financing, bumping up their cash to just under $12 million. URNZ Chief Executive Glenn Catchpole told us he hoped to launch his first In Situ Recovery operation for about, or less than, $10 million. This is a good sign. But, it was the next day’s news release which confirmed the earlier news and reinforced where the company is going. The company announced the appointment of three independent directors to its Board. All three were appointed to the audit committee. Two are accountants with impressive track records; the third has an MBA from the University of Western Ontario, one of North America’s top MBA schools. How do we interpret this news release? URNZ probably plans to move from the lowly over the counter bulletin board to a more senior exchange: Amex or NASDAQ Small Cap would be our guess.
What do you do about a company that hasn’t been issuing a flurry of news releases? Take Strathmore Minerals (TSX: STM; Other OTC: STHJF) as an example. There are developments, but the news stream has been fairly quiet. Have they come to a standstill? No, quite the opposite is true.
We did what any investor should always do in the absence of major news. We picked up the phone and called their investor relations department. During a brief chat with Craig Christy, the company’s spokesman, we asked about the company’s cash situation. He responded, “We have about C$0.55/share in cash.” Based on Thursday’s closing price, that comes to more than 30 percent of what the market is valuing STM. That’s UP from C$0.37/share earlier this year. STM has plenty of cash and is in excellent financial shape.
We looked through our copy of the Hargreave Hale Report, entitled, “Too Hot to Handle or Just Warming up?” This is a leading British financial institution, based in London. They are a major shareholder in STM, and they have been recommending STM shares. On page 32 of their document, we reviewed a great financial analysis of 33 Canadian and Australian uranium producers and development companies. The bar chart depicted the Uranium Enterprise Value (UREV) per Risk Adjusted pound of U3O8 Reserves and Resources of those thirty-three companies. A horizontal line crossed the chart, showing “fair value” of about US$4 million for each company’s UREV per pound adjusted.
It was interesting to study how STM stacked up against many of the most popular uranium companies. Companies, such as Mega Uranium (TSX: MGA) rated at about US$28 million – about 700 percent ABOVE the Hargreave Hale “fair value” analysis. Crosshair Exploration and Mining traded about 500 percent of its fair value. UEX scored about twice above its fair value. Companies such as Uranium Resources, Western Prospector, Paladin Resources and UrAsia Energy scored at or very near their fair value. Strathmore Minerals had the lowest fair value rating – an absolute steal at about 30 percent of its fair value. About 16 companies traded above their fair value, some very much above the Hargreave Hale fair value analysis. It was enlightening to find Strathmore was in the company of producers such as ERA of Australia, IUC, Uranium One and Denison as an undervalued uranium company. In this case, it was the most undervalued of all 33 companies analyzed by the City of London financial institution.
We also found out that, a week ago, Strathmore Minerals president David Miller presented at the invitation-only Raymond James In-Situ Leach Uranium Mini-Conference in Toronto and Montreal on June 7th and 8th. You could visit the Raymond James website for the webcast of David Miller’s presentation, but it has restricted access. Others presenting were Uranium Resources and Energy Metals. We were fortunate to review David Miller’s PowerPoint presentation. One word describes Miller’s presentation: Wow! It really did pack a punch. We heard Raymond James may be releasing these presentations to the public in the near future.
Sometimes, when there is a lack of news, one can learn to dig around and find a company can be doing quite well. In other instances, one can study the news releases and try piecing together where the company is heading. We hope this guidance helps you become a more sophisticated investor. We neither recommend stocks nor give buying and selling advice. As always, speculating on natural resource companies can be very risky and suitable only for certain investors. One should always check with their registered financial advisor about what is suitable or not for one’s investment decisions.