Here’s how this ad begins:
“Wall Street Just Got a New Boss…
“And It’s Not Paulson, Bernanke, Pelosi or Bush…
“It’s a small group of 5 investors who now control more money than all the investment banks ever did in their heyday – and they’re using it at will…
“Here’s how you “front run” their moves, starting with a 212% triple-banger to make up for the credit crisis…”
The general gist of the ad is that sovereign wealth funds are going to be the big movers in the months to come, and that they’ll be swooping in and buying up stuff right and left. Hard to argue with that, I suppose — they are indisputably the ones with big piles of available cash, though of course Bernanke can make as much cash as he likes.
And actually, they seem to be in most cases standing on the sidelines these days — I expect the managers of these big funds, most of which are built on oil money, are probably being patient. A few of these funds have piled in to many of the big financial names over the past year, and in so doing have taken a bit of a beating in the short term, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see them come in and start buying in volume now that the US government appears to be committed to liquefying some of the credit markets.
So … if the big money from Singapore, Norway, Kuwait, the UAE, and the Saudi royals start piling in at some point, what are they going to buy? Who will profit from what they call the “$3.1 Trillion Money Bomb?”
That gets us, finally, to the point. The ad is from Keith Fitz-Gerald and it’s urging you to subscribe to the service that he calls the Money Map Report. He thinks that their analysis allows them to predict where big money will go, and he thinks that he can help you get rich alongside those sovereign wealth funds that he calls “Cash Barons.”
And, delightfully for me, he teases us about a couple of these investments. I’ll go into one in detail here, and get to the next one over the weekend.
“Drilling For Billions in Energy”
“Right now, there’s a company that holds a patent on a breakthrough technology that the energy world would love to get its hands on. Those who get in now before the word spreads could easily make 212% returns this year alone.
“It has to do with something called microhole drilling.
“This microhole drilling would allow energy companies to bring hard-to-reach oil and gas reserves to the surface, cheaply and efficiently.
“The improved design of the drilling equipment is so advanced that it beat the penetration rate of conventional rigs by 100%. It’s faster to move and assemble, too – cutting the set-up time in half.”
OK, so it’s some kind of drilling rig developer or operator. Do we get any more specific clues?
Indeed we do!
“The Mexican government has just spent $339 million to get their hands on it. Their contract involves the drilling of at least 285 gas wells in the Burgos basin.”
“Oman just forked over $40 million. It’s already increased production over 200% on average.”
Just to let you know, that “news” is not all particularly new … this company has been dealing with Mexico for these “at least 285 gas wells” for at least five years, I think.
He also says that the real push for this stock will be the US …
“We’re sitting on an estimated 21 billion barrels of oil. But we can’t get to a lot of it because of the severe environmental regulations… Yet finally – here comes a technology that can help retrieve this black gold. Not only that, but it’s environmentally friendly, affordable and efficient. Talk about a triple-whammy!”
The other clues are what help us zoom in on exactly which company this is:
They pay a “hefty” dividend — 9%
They pay this dividend in Canadian dollars — Fitz-Gerald notes that as the US dollar drops against the Loonie this will be a boost for US investors.
And he says that this one “is poised to explode over 212% in a short time.”
And of course, “all of the details on this company are in a special report titled Drilling For Dollars. I’d like to send it to you for no charge whatsoever.”
(assuming you’re willing to pay for that subscription, natch)
So what is this company?
Precision Drilling Trust (PDS)
I actually owned shares of this company a few years ago, but no longer do. And the original ad was sent to me, along with this solution that I agree with, by a fellow who used to work for the company — and actually, he sent his note from an offshore drilling rig, which gives a little extra boost to the idea that he knows what he’s talking about.
But it doesn’t matter where the ad came from — what’s the deal with the company, and are you interested?
Well, one thing that makes it quite possible that Precision Drilling could be an interesting investment over the next couple years is the changing Canadian tax law. PDS had the misfortune of turning itself into an Income Trust almost exactly a year before the Canadian government surprisingly changed the law and made it so that all Trusts will have to pay corporate taxes in 2011.
For those who don’t know, Canadian Trusts, often called income trusts or royalty trusts or business trusts, are companies that act somewhat similarly to US MLPs or REITs — they pass along almost all of their income to unitholders in the form of dividends, and this became such a free money boondoggle that all kinds of companies converted to the trust structure … when some huge corporations like Canada’s major Bell telephone company began to consider the trust structure, the government panicked and essentially scuttled all new trust conversions with this tax change. Most of these trusts are oil and gas producers, and they’ve been hugely popular with US investors because many of them are eligible for the low 15% dividend tax rate, and because climbing gas and oil prices in the last five years have brought incredible returns for investors in these firms.
There has been plenty of debate about this tax law change, and about what it will mean for these companies — whether they’ll have to change back into regular taxable corporations, or might want to try to convert themselves into some other kind of partnership, or keep operating as trusts and use other tax avoidance techniques, at least in the short term. Some companies are clearly committed to remaining income-focused investment vehicles, and some are probably going to revert to regular corporate structures and focus less on dividends — I have no idea what Precision Drilling will do.
And some folks persist in believing that the tax law might be changed in the next two years before it goes into effect.
For our purposes, we should probably just keep in mind that the dividend policy might change significantly in the next two years for PDS. Every trust is making plans for how to cope with this, and there are several different strategies they might pursue — including being taken over at these relatively depressed prices, which is what has happened to several of the real Royalty Trusts in the last year and a half.
PDS has been a pretty wild mover in the past few years, even before the Canadian trust law change was announced at the end of 2006, but since that law change it has had a big move downward in reaction not just to that law but also to a glut of land drilling rigs in North American. The shares recovered last winter with better natural gas prices and oil service stock strength in general. And with natural gas collapsing over the past few months, PDS shares have fallen, too, along with, again, pretty much all the drillers of all stripes.
The other big note about Precision is that they’ve made a significant acquisition — they agreed to buy Grey Wolf earlier this year, a deal that was finalized just a few weeks ago. (This actually hit the Gumshoe wires about three months ago, largely because Basic Energy Services was teased as a good special dividend investment thanks to their offer for Grey Wolf). Both BAS and PDS have suffered mightily since that ad, back in July, but PDS has fallen slightly further.
I’m no expert in drilling rig technology, and I don’t know how important their various technologies are in the grand scheme of things — but the company is more or less as teased. They do have drilling rig patents, and my drilling rig friend tells us that the newer rigs being teased are the slant super single super double rigs, which are apparently in some demand.
There are a couple thing to consider with Precision, in my opinion, even beyond the fact that all PDS investors should consider the tax law and review comments that PDS has made public, if they exist, for coping with that tax structure.
First, though they are expanding into Mexico and they have a large business that will be further diversified by Grey Wolf, this is a company that is extremely dependent on North American natural gas production, with a significant focus on Western Canada. That means they’re going, in the long run, to probably be quite sensitive to natural gas prices.
And second, Precision is actually not just a driller — their biggest business is contract drilling, but they do almost everything for oil and gas companies, including catering for the oilfield workers, supplying consumables, handling water treatment at drilling sites, and renting and servicing all the field production equipment.
Finally, as long as we’re at it, let’s just quickly take a moment to consider a couple of the assumptions and claims in the ad, just because I’m feeling a little cranky and haven’t had my breakfast:
US/Canadian dollar. It’s true that 2007 was a very successful year for the Loonie agains the US dollar, and that those PDS dividends would have gone up in US Dollar value during that year. This year, however, the reverse has been true (though not on nearly the same scale). The Canadian dollar became briefly more valuable than the US dollar last fall, and bounced around parity (meaning, you could exchange a Canadian dollar for a US dollar straight up) for a few months, but lately the US dollar has recovered significantly, and falling oil prices have probably hurt the Canadian dollar.
I wouldn’t disagree that the US dollar is going to go down in value in general — we’re printing an awful lot of them, after all. But there’s not currently any indication that it’s going to down versus the Canadian dollar — they’ve got what is often called a “resource currency”, meaning that their big oil reserves boost their dollar, but when the US gets in trouble the Canadians are certainly not going to be able to escape that.
And second, just to be a little bit of a pain in the arse, I want to point out a few of the things that Fitz-Gerald claims in his effort to make you want to send him money …
In providing his bona fides, he notes that “Forbes.com praised the ‘global perspective, experience, and the safety-first stability’ I provide for investors.”
That quote is from the preamble to an Optionetics interview that happened to get republished on Forbes.com … don’t consider it to be an endorsement of the Forbes editorial writers, though they may like or dislike Fitz-gerald, I don’t know.
And on the point that he’s a good predicter of market moves, he takes credit for calling the move in Chinese markets. This is what he says:
“In February 2007, during a public appearance at the prestigious World Money Show in Orlando, I correctly warned that China’s shares were headed for a tumble – long before that country’s stock market plunged 9% in a single trading session. I later accurately predicted the Chinese correction that began in November.”
He was right, sort of — China was poised for a fall … but not from the level it was at in February 2007. Going by either the China A shares closed end fund, CAF, or by the major Chinese large cap index, represented by the FXI ETF, China today is awfully close to where it was 18 months ago in February 2007. Inbetween it had a wild ride — it went up by almost 200% between Fitz-gerald’s warnings and when it actually had that 9% one day decline (remember when that seemed like a lot?). That was close to a year of wildly successful Chinese investing, but yes, after it went up 200% form Keith’s warning, it became a very bad investment for the last six-ten months. Lots of folks cautioned that China was headed for a fall, but not many folks got the time frame right.
This is not to say that Keith Fitz-Gerald is a bad guy or a bad adviser — just to remind you that we should always take the claims made in these ads with a nice big grain of salt. It’s easy to get sucked in and believe the hype, but it’s often true that even the most innocuous claims and promises are something less than the full truth.
That goes for what I’ve written above, too, of course, and what I write to you every day — I’m sure that I make mistakes on occasion, and that I have my own biases. if nothing else, we should know that this is not a time to rely on one source for any advice, opinion, guidance, or tips.
Happy investing everyone, looks like they’re going to get the vote underway fairly soon in the House of Representatives … so hopefully the folks on CNBC will be able to talk about something else soon. I’ve heard about all the analogies related to lubrication and enemas that I can stand.
And assuming nothing wildly more exciting comes along, I’ll get to work on sharing some thoughts about Fitz-Gerald’s other two picks tomorrow.