Gold Stocks Should Win Regardless of Economic Turmoil: Chen Lin
Investors focused on picking the next ailing economy have reinforced gold as the ultimate refuge if all the financial juggling fails. In this exclusive interview with The Gold Report, Chen Lin talks about the effects of risk aversion on the performance of gold stocks. While it has been a tough year for precious metals stocks, there are some very promising stories smart investors should be looking at as others decide to clean house for tax purposes.
The Gold Report: When you last spoke with The Gold Report in August, the gold:silver ratio was about 40:1. Today it's about 53:1. In August, you were looking for a lower gold:silver ratio that you thought would probably be more reasonable under the circumstances. Yet it seems to have gone the other direction. What do you think has happened here? Was silver drastically overpriced or not able to keep up with the gold?
Chen Lin: In the last interview, I was pretty evenly bidding between gold and silver. I don't have a particular preference. At that time, there were some major funds buying silver. Historically it has been lower—as low as 10:1 a very long time ago. But, right now, it's in a reasonable range. So, I'm not saying that one is overvalued and the other is undervalued. Silver has some industrial components to it while gold is mainly monetary. I'm personally looking for the silver:gold ratio to go lower over the long run. Right now, the financial crisis has pushed central banks to actually start buying more gold in the past quarter. So, that's probably keeping the gold price higher.
TGR: So, what you're saying is the European debt crisis is the thing that's really driving the gold price higher.
CL: Two or three of the central banks have put a historical amount of gold on their books, which tells you there's more focus on gold because of the European crisis.
TGR: What do you think is going to happen with metals prices if this Eurozone situation deteriorates further?
CL: That's a hard question. I think it's in the hands of the policymakers. When Greece said we're going to do the referendum and that Greece could be kicked out of the Eurozone, the Greek people were rushing to their banks to get the euro out. If the euro starts falling apart, I think gold could be one of the hard assets people in Europe will try to get their hands on. That could be very positive for gold. I can see Germany give in to the other euro countries and basically agree to use the European Central Bank to print money. That's probably the most likely outcome. That would delay the crisis and investors would focus on other countries such as Japan and the United States. Then Europe may quiet down a little bit. But, that would be very positive to gold as well. Gold can potentially have a very explosive move on the announcement.
TGR: You've had pretty spectacular performance since you started your portfolio with about $5,000. In August, it was down about 10% for the year. What's happened here in the last three or four months?
CL: It's been down between 10% and 15% so far, it has been quite flat this year. Considering that I own a lot of junior stocks, those stocks can be very volatile.
TGR: It's been a tough year for everybody and not easy to show any spectacular gains in 2011. How about some of the individual stocks in your portfolio; do you have some nice winners that you'd like to talk about?
CL: Prophecy Platinum Corp. (NKL:TSX.V; PNIKD:OTCPK; P94P:Fkft) was a spectacular winner. The rest have been holding on. However, I'm quite optimistic because some of the stocks have some major news coming in the next few months.
TGR: You mentioned platinum, which always used to trade at a pretty substantial premium to gold. It's obviously a lot rarer than gold. Yet somehow, it's faded into obscurity in the last few years. Do you have any opinions on why that might be the case?
CL: In fact, I was out telling everybody that I'm loading up on platinum. Platinum is less than 10% of the global production of gold. Some 75% of global production comes from South Africa, which is having problems with electricity, labor disputes and other issues. Right now platinum is trading at a discount to gold. It's almost unheard of. It used to be platinum was twice as much as gold. There could be hedge funds that may be long platinum and short gold and are having some problems and may be unwinding some positions. Over the long run, I think platinum is probably a very good investment.
TGR: Tell us more about Prophecy Platinum.
CL: This stock has been a spectacular winner for me this year. It's up from less than $1/share to over $6/share in quite a short time. Now it's pulled back to about the $3/share range. Prophecy just completed a private placement, of which 25% was participation by the insiders. That's very strong insider participation. The price right now is at around the private placement price. Prophecy has a huge platinum group metals (PGM) deposit in the Yukon. It's 12 million ounces in the NI 43-101. Prophecy just had some very nice drill holes. When the next update comes out, it will probably have more PGM and the gold. So, that's looking very good. It has a sister company called Prophecy Coal Corp. (PCY:TSX; PRPCF:OTCQX; 1P2:Fkft), which owns about 45% of Prophecy Platinum. If you deduct its cash and the value of its Prophecy Platinum holdings, you get the coalmine in Mongolia for free. Plus you have leverage to this platinum play.
TGR: The platinum price situation is just hard to believe—the way it has fallen back. Maybe it has something to do with less industrial demand.
CL: The industrial demand will slow down a little bit. But, it's not this dramatic. I feel it's like when silver dropped to $10/ounce in 2008. The price dropped so low that I think it's an opportunity for investors to buy platinum and platinum stocks on the cheap.
Another platinum producer I like is Stillwater Mining Company (SWC:NYSE). That's the largest platinum producer in North America.
TGR: Stillwater. That's the only producer in the U.S. that I'm aware of.
CL: Right. It fell very hard recently and lost two-thirds of its market cap. It now has a little bit of a rebound. I bought it pretty close to the bottom and I'm still holding it.
TGR: You recently returned from a visit to Haiti where you went to take a look at the Majescor Resources Inc. (MJX:TSX.V) gold property. What kind of report do you have on that?
CL: Oh, I was very excited about that. The property has a huge potential and Newmont Mining Corp. (NEM:NYSE) is also in the area. Newmont has been very interested in Majescor's drilling program and even invited Majescor's company executives to its office when I was there. That tells you how much focus it has on this drilling program by Majescor. It will have drilling results coming out in December. First, it was targeting copper and copper-gold and then it will drill out the area with some very high gold intercepts. In a previous release, Majescor showed 10 meters of something like 70 grams per ton. It will drill that next year. Basically, it's a gold and copper or copper and gold project, depending on where you focus on it.
TGR: So, we're going to wait for results next month and see how that goes, correct?
CL: Exactly. Its market cap is only $15 million and it could have a world-class deposit. Plus all the majors are looking at the drilling results.
TGR: So there may be a good chance that it will get taken out pretty quickly if the stock doesn't go crazy.
CL: Majescor has been working on this project for two or three years and finally the drilling starts. It's a pretty exciting time for shareholders.
TGR: Back in August you were also pretty positive on Pretium Resources Inc. (PVG:TSX). The company has a couple of properties that look pretty interesting at Snowfield and Brucejack. What's been going on with those properties since last August?
CL: I visited its property and it was very, very exciting. The high-grade gold intercept was fantastic. Right now, the market is in a holding mode and we haven't seen much movement in the past few months. Once people see how good a deposit it is and recognize how undervalued it is, I think we should see some good upside movement on this stock.
TGR: You also visited the Romios Gold Resources Inc. (RG:TSX.V; RMIOF:NASDAQ; D4R:Fkft) and the NovaGold Resources Inc. (NG:TSX; NG:NYSE.A) properties up in Northwestern B.C. last summer. What's going on there?
CL: Romios started releasing drilling results and you can see it has some pretty good intercepts. It is still looking for the sweet spot and will probably need to take more time to drill out this area to find the center of the deposit.
TGR: When do you expect some significant news?
CL: Depending on the next round of drilling results, it could mean Romios needs to come back next year to do more drilling. It already released a few rounds of results and I think it has maybe one or two rounds of results left.
TGR: Romios is near NovaGold. Do you think there's some possibility that NovaGold may try to take a run at Romios?
CL: NovaGold has a new CEO and plans to sell this Galore Creek deposit. Last time I think I was hoping it would have fantastic drilling results and then we would have a takeover situation. But, now it looks like it has found a deposit and needs to drill more. So, you probably need a little bit more patience to see how it develops, probably into next year.
TGR: What about NovaCopper?
CL: NovaGold wants to spin copper projects off and potentially the name could be NovaCopper. We'll have to see what kind of deal it has and what direction that property goes.
TGR: What about other companies in your portfolio? Any developments there that our readers should be aware of?
CL: I'm still holding a lot of OceanaGold Corp. (OGC:TSX; OGC:ASX). The company is a producer in New Zealand and is starting up its new gold mine in the Philippines. It's probably one of the cheaper gold producers you can find. I also own Coeur d'Alene Mines Corp. (CDM:TSX; CDE:NYSE). That's a big silver producer and just had a management change. The company has two new silver mines going and half a billion dollar cash flow each year. It's building up a third mine, which is a gold mine, and a fourth mine, a silver mine. It doesn't have much in capital requirements coming and I hope will end up paying a dividend. I've been holding the stock for a while and expect to keep holding it.
TGR: What are your expectations as far as market performance in the last weeks of the year? Then what happens next year with the precious metals and mining stocks?
CL: A lot depends on the European solution. I think the most likely result would be a massive money printing in the Eurozone. That would be very positive for gold. As far as gold mining, we have seen the general lack of capital in mining stocks. That's why I try to stay with companies with a strong cash flow. Many exploration companies and emerging producers are trading at very low valuation. Still, the market doesn't give them recognition. If we have any solutions in the Europe situation, these stocks can have a huge run.
TGR: Are there any other parting thoughts you might want to leave with our readers as far as how they should be playing this market?
CL: Gold stocks are extremely undervalued right now versus the gold price. I personally believe that gold will go much higher. How high will gold stocks go? I think this depends on market conditions. Gold stocks have two faces. One is related to gold. The other is related to the capital markets. Mining companies need to raise money to produce gold. It's a very capital-intensive industry. So, if the capital market doesn't improve, gold mining stocks may lag behind gold for some time. But, once we have some stabilization, I can see some extremely undervalued gold stocks out there. Another idea to think about is to try to follow what the majors like. A company like Majescor clearly has the interest from majors. Majors are flooded with cash and can afford to pay a reasonable market price for a property. So, I think it's probably a good time to follow the trades of the majors.
TGR: You've given us some good information and food for thought. Thanks for joining us today.
CL: Thanks for having me.
Chen Lin writes the popular stock newsletter What Is Chen Buying? What Is Chen Selling?, published and distributed by Taylor Hard Money Advisors, Inc. While a doctoral candidate in aeronautical engineering at Princeton, Lin found his investment strategies were so profitable that he put his Ph.D. on the back burner. He employs a value-oriented approach and often demonstrates excellent market timing due to his exceptional technical analysis.
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1) Zig Lambo of The Gold Report conducted and edited this interview. He personally, and/or his family, own shares of the following companies mentioned in this interview: None.
2) The following companies mentioned in the interview are sponsors of The Gold Report: Majescor Resources Inc., Pretium Resources Inc., NovaGold Resources Inc.
3) Chen Lin: I personally and/or my family own shares of the following companies mentioned in this interview: Every stock except NovaGold Resources Inc. I personally, and/or my family, am paid by the following companies mentioned in this interview: None.
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