All that glitters

Here’s an investing disaster of mine, with a catalogue of errors along the way, which could have ended worse. Hopefully with some lessons learned.

SHG (Shanta Gold) is a junior gold miner in Tanzania, and was on the threshold of production. I know, you’re probably cringing already. Given the good prospects, I bought in at 32p in April 20122, and topped up again at 24p in Jan 2012. This was shortly before production was due to start. Around about Feb, if memory serves, there were commissioning problems, and finances were stretched. The company had arranged some debt to tide them over, so everything looked OK despite the problems.

Around about April, someone posted a link to a YouTube vid on quite an experienced mining guy who explained how junior miners on forward PEs of 3 can become forward PEs of 100. Long story short: production delays, overestimations, cost escalations, and heavy dilutions are what do you in. Sufficiently frightened by the contents, and realising the huge risk I was taking, I sold out at 20p. What happened next? Well, of course, over the ensuing months, the price climbed to 34p. It occurred to me that I was the victim of a successful deramp.

I hadn’t been following the story much since April, but when I had a look at earnings estimates awhile ago, I noticed that they were not as good as I thought, and probably were not interesting enough to buy anyway.

I subscribe to ADVFN news, and SHG was on the list, so I received an interesting RNS today. SHG said that they would have a placing. They needed to $30m (£18.6m). The initial funding would be by a placing of (up to) 80m shares. The tricky bit is that if they don’t raise enough money (which it now looks like they wont … more about that in a second), they will will seek approvals from shareholders on 15 Nov to issue more shares to make up the funding shortfall.

There are 318.8m shares of SHG in issue, so an extra 80m is obviously significant dilution. The dilution is likely to be greater, though. I see that analysts put EPS earnings at 0.93p for y/e 31-Dec-2013, giving it a forward PE of 22.4. That’s before the issue, though.

Today’s news of the placing has sent the shares down 15% to 17.76p at the time of writing. It seems likely to me that the institutions will want a significant discount even to that price.

To be honest, I don’t see how there’s an investment case in this company – not at anything like current levels, anyway.

“A mine is a hole in the ground with a liar at the top” — Mark Twain.

About mcturra2000

Computer programmer living in Scotland.
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2 Responses to All that glitters

  1. I think you meant that you bought in at 2011, not 20122!

    Mining companies are so fraught with risks that I cannot believe that anyone would invest in mining before they even build the mine! But then, I guess many could apply to several sectors. Nevertheless, I did wonder one thing though. What actually attract you to this particular company, not all the other gold miners at the cusp of production?

    • mcturra2000 says:

      The forward PE looked attractive, and it looked liked they would make good profits from the resources. Also, the funding situation looked good at the time; but deteriorated. Directors were also taking shares in lieu of salary. There seemed to be multiple factors working in its favour.

      That’s what I thought at the time, anyway.

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