Friday, October 21, 2011

Another believer in Gold Junior Miners—Edward Karr Interview

This is an article from Edward Karr, CEO of RAMPartners is based in Geneva, Switzerland—a country with gold reserves that rank eighth in the world. From his perspective the swissie (Swiss Franc) just made a huge error pegging itself to the Euro. He sees the best chances for capital growth in both physical gold and junior mining stocks.

Truly after my own heart


excerpts reposted from The Gold Report interview:

The Gold Report: RAMPartners is based in Geneva, Switzerland, a country that made economic news a month ago when the Swiss National Bank capped the Swiss franc at 1.20 francs per euro, slashed interest rates and flooded the market with Swiss francs. Did you agree with those moves and what impact do you think they had on the gold price?

Edward Karr: I emphatically disagree with the move by the Swiss National Bank. To me it makes no sense to peg the Swiss franc at 1.20 to the euro. Switzerland is, in effect, backstopping Greece and all of the other indebted countries in Europe. This is lunacy. Greece or anyone can just hit the Swiss National Bank's bid at 1.20 and convert into Swiss francs, which it would probably rather have than its euro position.

Since this policy, we've seen a psychological shift in markets. People have been rethinking the Swiss franc as a safe-haven currency. The Norwegian kroner looks more like a safe-haven currency now than the Swiss franc. I'm just happy Switzerland is not part of the European Union and not part of the euro. I hope it will understand the foolishness of the 1.20 peg and get rid of it soon.

As to the current effect on the gold price, right around when this happened gold topped and started to sell off. I don't think they are directly related, but I think it is psychological. If the Swiss franc holds at 1.20 to the euro, if a hedge fund or a corporation hits the Swiss National Bank with a billion euros, it is no big deal. But what about 10 billion, 100 billion, even a trillion? Then it starts becoming a big deal. At some point does Switzerland have to start selling its gold reserves to continue this lunacy? Switzerland now has 1,146 tons of gold. Maybe people are worried that if that gold starts to come out it could put downward pressure on the bullion price; hence, we have seen a little sell off in the overall market.


TRG: Gold has fallen steadily since reaching about $1,900/ounce (oz.) in August. It now sits at about $1,670/oz. Why has it fallen recently?

EK: I think the logical explanation for falling prices is that gold is a relatively liquid asset. Governments, hedge fund managers, bankers and individuals are all facing a severe cash crisis. In that environment you have forced liquidations. Governments are doing all they can to put a positive spin on a terrible environment. But, if you're a global macro hedge fund manager who has heavy redemptions, you have to sell your liquid assets to raise cash.

Man Investments is one of the biggest hedge fund groups. Last month it announced record redemptions of $7 billion. The firm has to raise cash, so what is it going to do? There are no bids out there for Greek debt, no bids for mortgage-backed securities, no bids for countless other OTC financial derivatives. Gold is liquid; it is easily tradable and has been part of the massive global scramble to cash that we've seen in the last two to three months.

TRG: How low could gold go?

EK: That's a great question. The only credible answer is that gold can go a lot lower than anyone expects. A lot of Johnny-come-latelies have bought into gold in the last few years. A big downdraft will shake out a lot of loose hands.

Europe is on the edge of a cliff. Dexia Bank might fall any day. UniCredit in Italy is right behind. I think we will see a severe domino effect that will make 2008 seem like a walk in the park. If Dexia or UniCredit or the European Central Bank itself had a big major gold position and it had forced liquidation, it will have to sell and the price could go down pretty dramatically.

...This party is just getting started. You can see the house, you can hear the music and see people, but you have not even walked in the front door. Wait for the party; don't leave before it even begins!

TRG: What are some rules of thumb for investing in junior resource companies during uncertain times?

EK: I like to own good companies with solid management teams and great assets. And then, it all comes down to the timing. The current markets are fantastic for finding attractive entry points. As a general rule, when it feels the worst is usually the best time to buy.

When people get scared, markets and stock prices get way out of line. That is when you need to have the courage to really step in and accumulate. Worst case, if the banks collapse and the ATMs actually do stop working, those who own physical gold will be better off than 99% of the other people out there. But it is more likely that the markets will rebound quickly as QE3 comes in and the ECB and the Fed turbo charge the printing presses. Then, the junior mining stocks and bullion will be off to the races.

TRG: What are some names you have positions in?

EK: I'm quite bullish on Sagebrush Gold Ltd. (SAGE:OTCBB), which trades on over the counter in the U.S. I like the company because it recently acquired a former producing gold mine and mill in Nevada. Nevada is a great jurisdiction; it has rule of law, most of the mines are easily accessible and it has the geology. It is the second most prolific gold zone in the world after the Witwatersrand of South Africa. Sagebrush bought the Relief Canyon mine and its brand-new $30 million (M), state-of-the art facility. It should start production by mid-2012. Relief Canyon currently has a 155 thousand ounce (Koz.) resource and it has an aggressive exploration program on the property right now.


TRG: Is Sagebrush looking to get listed on the TSX Venture or the TSX main board?

EK: I believe so. It is exploring both the TSX and the AMEX in the U.S. I would like to see the company listed on a more major exchange, where it will get increased visibility and liquidity, probably more research and publishing.

There is a further arbitrage opportunity here. Recently, Sagebrush acquired all of the assets of Continental Resources Group Inc. (CRGC:OTCBB). The deal was 0.8 shares of Sagebrush for every share of Continental. I believe the acquisition is still being worked out and the share swap will happen in the next few weeks. So the big opportunity is to buy the shares of Continental. Effectively, you are getting Sagebrush shares at around $0.31 with the current Continental price of $0.25. Sagebrush is in the $0.50 range, so this is like grabbing dollars for $0.60. Warren Buffet recently said he would buy Berkshire all day long for $0.90 on the dollar. By buying Continental, you get Sagebrush for $0.60 on the dollar. Plus Sagebrush acquired Continental’s portfolio of uranium exploration assets. Uranium is currently really beaten up post-Fukushima, but it is not going away longer term. I believe uranium prices will rally back when the cycle turns and patient investors will be well rewarded on this unique play.

Read full interview here

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