June 26, 2013 Comments

S&P 500 was up 1.0% today and Toronto fell 0.5%.

Most of our Stock Picks were up today. That includes long-time favorite Wells Fargo up 1.8% and relatively recent speculative pick Toll Brothers up 1.9%.

With the recent partial recovery and with some recent buying on dips and with the decline in the Canadian dollar helping out, it seems my own account is down only about 1.5% form its late May peak, which puts me up about 17% this year to date which is an excellent return (particularly given how bad the Canadian market has done).

But what of Gold? I never have any opinion on where the price of Gold is headed. I have never invested in Gold or Gold companies or Gold ETFs. (Well save for one ill-fated small investment in Bema Gold back at the time when BreEx was flying high.) From that I learned how Gold companies tended to have little or no profits and were basically priced as lottery tickets and I never touched the stuff again. And I really never regretted that, since why should I abandon a system of picking stocks of profitable companies that has worked fairly reliably for me just because some people won a small lottery prize with Gold in the 2000’s.

Possibly Gold will recover, I have no idea. It is clear that it is cheaper now than it was in about three years. Technical traders who by definition love to sell low and buy high will not consider buying now. If I were interested in Gold (which I am not) I would be more inclined to buy today than at the the former high prices.

As far as Gold Miners it’s hard to get interested in that when I see that Barrick Gold has become a national embarrassment. I wonder how much money Peter Munk ever made for investors as opposed to what he made from investors? According to its Q1 balance sheet it has $19 billion of shareholder invested capital just $4 billion in accumulated retained earnings from its total history. And I seem to recall reading that it facing a big write-off so that may wipe out the retained earnings. Unless it has paid out a LOT of earnings as dividends (and it has paid at least some) this is a very pathetic record indeed. If the purpose of Barrick was to create jobs for many people and to create big salaries and esteem for its executives it has done well. If its purpose was to create returns for its share owners, it seems to have failed pretty badly. And let’s not forget we just finished ten years of strong Gold prices. The real damage in terms of wealth destruction may lie ahead.

The efficient market hypothesis suggests that none of this can be predicted from looking at balance sheets or past history or anything else and that the ability to beat the market is purely random. Well, there is SOME truth to it but it’s certainly not 100% true and I have found some value in actually looking at fundamentals and financial statements.

Well, I suppose I should not get over confident, else the investment gods will smack me down.


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