Thursday 25th April 2019

Resource Clips


Getting Frank

Frank Holmes discusses tips, disruptors, M&A, what drives HIVE, and more

by Greg Klein

Frank Holmes discusses tips, cryptos, disruptors, peak gold, M&A and more

With over 7,000 attendees, VRIC 2019’s numbers and enthusiasm suggested a buoyant market mood.

 

Definitely one of the busiest people at this year’s Vancouver Resource Investment Conference, Frank Holmes kicked off the event with a keynote speech to a capacity crowd, one of a number of times he took the stage during the two-day event. Even so, the CEO and chief investment officer of U.S. Global Investors found time to sit down with Resource Clips and discuss some wide-ranging issues.

A new feature at this year’s VRIC was the Top Picks Competition, which pitted three companies he chose against three selected by Marin Katusa. The fast pace had the rivals briefly introduce each of his three picks, followed by a company rep giving a concise six-minute presentation. The packed audience rated each company from one to 10. While waiting for results to appear on the big screen, Katusa said, “Man, I’ll be depressed if I lose to Frank.”

Frank Holmes discusses cryptos, disruptors, peak gold, M&A and more

The mainstay of this year’s VRIC, Holmes
tackled issues ranging from peak gold to data mining.

But the chart showed no definite winner, at least not to those who struggle with mental math. Katusa pronounced the results a tie but Holmes confidently told Resource Clips: “I won.”

As for the format, “that model of 20 seconds per slide, capped at 20 slides, 6.4 minutes, that model is working in 900 cities,” he explained, adding that it began in 2003 with the Tokyo-based Klein-Dytham architectural firm. “The PechaKucha model will drive more interest to a company’s booth than anything else.”

But isn’t there a danger that stock tips from influential people can affect share prices more than company performance does?

“I’ve invested in all six of those companies so I’m not getting up there with anyone I haven’t vetted.”

Are they long-term holds? “They have been.”

Katusa stuck with miners but Holmes’ list included two disruptors—a soon-to-be-listed company that creates gold and platinum jewelry as tradable investments, and another company that applies machine learning to mineral exploration as well as combining quantitative and fundamental analyses of mining investment.

Frank Holmes discusses cryptos, disruptors, peak gold, M&A and more

Investors heard first-hand pitches from company reps.

Disruption seems to increasingly command Holmes’ attention, but not at the expense of good old-fashioned gold. He sees peak gold as one application for AI and machine learning.

“There are fundamental supply-demand issues, there has to be a new way to replace it. The world’s GDP per capita for China, India and America is so strong and when you look at China and India, their GDP per capita is highly correlated to gold demand for love.

“When I first got in the business there was a four-year cycle from exploration to discovery to production. Now it’s a minimum eight to 12 years. We have declining reserves and each year the mines are getting deeper and deeper, the grades are getting lower and lower, and there’s also a falloff in exploration success. The timeline for getting projects on stream is getting longer and longer. We do have peak supply.”

With the Newmont-Goldcorp buyout following closely on the Barrick-Rangold merger, M&A has returned to prominence. When asked whether the activity could have a trickle-down effect on junior explorers, the Toronto native brought up a nationalist perspective.

A locally headquartered major means “a junior explorer or mid-cap developer can knock on their door, pitch them a story and maybe they’re your partner. But now you’d have to go to Denver, and the process of what they look at is very different from what Canadians look at. So I think there’s a vacuum being created and it’s not helping the Canadian mining industry.”

Additionally, “I think Canada will be hurt because the geological brain trust that was with Barrick in Toronto will go to Europe or South Africa. With Newmont, the brain trust will go to Denver.”

Frank Holmes discusses cryptos, disruptors, peak gold, M&A and more

Attendees gleaned intel from speakers, exhibitors and each other.

He suggested gold might attract more M&A than other metals because it’s “more bullish.” Elsewhere in metals, he expects to see further shareholder activism as seen by Waterton Global Resource Management with Hudbay Minerals and Paulson & Co with Detour Gold. “I’m surprised there isn’t more in the mid-cap space,” he noted.

He considers the activism constructive—“anything that keeps people accountable.” As chairperson of cryptocurrency miner HIVE Blockchain Technologies, however, he has to account for a share price that’s plunged about 78% over the last year.

“All of us are down, but it’s only because of the Bitcoin and Ethereum prices,” he said. “With gold stocks, most of them rise or fall as gold rises or falls that day. They correlate. What HIVE has done is become a proxy [for buying cryptos]. So HIVE has become incredibly liquid and moves every day with the price action of Bitcoin and Ethereum. Bitcoin and Ethereum have a volatility such that if gold’s daily volatility is 1%, their daily volatility is 6% to 8%. So that’s what drives HIVE. If Bitcoin goes this quarter to $10,000, we’ll go to a dollar. And if Bitcoin falls, we’ll go down with it. We’re at the mercy of where the cryptocurrencies are going. But the positive part for an investor or trader is that you can call up during market hours and use that as a proxy.”

One indication of continuing crypto enthusiasm, he added, was a very strong turnout at the previous week’s North American Bitcoin Conference in Miami, despite a hefty admission fee.

As for VRIC, he likes the event for “energy—it’s the vibe, what people are talking about. Are they skewing to optimism, or to doubt and fear and pessimism? I get the energy and vibrations here, and whether there’s an appetite for risk. This is all venture capital. Most of these companies are speculation. As I said at the opening, I’m so happy people came here and didn’t go to the casino or buy a lottery ticket to speculate.”

Watch for videos of VRIC presentations to be posted in the coming weeks by Cambridge House International.

Frank Holmes discusses cryptos, disruptors, peak gold, M&A and more

Moderated by Daniela Cambone, the Ultimate Gold Panel
included Holmes, Peter Hug, Roy Sebag and Peter Schiff.

 

Frank Holmes discusses tips, disruptors, M&A, what drives HIVE, and more

Although soliciting was strictly prohibited,
a hint of hustle might have been evident.


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