We don’t cover a lot of Australian teaser pitches here at Stock Gumshoe, but every now and then one percolates to the surface as its being heavily promoted by one of the Aussie publishers. This time around, it’s the Australian Small-Cap Investigator newsletter being promoted by Port Philip Publishing (which was started as the Australian offshoot of Agora about ten years ago), and the letter comes from Sam Volkering, who edits the letter and presumably picks the stocks.
Volkering’s letter is, as you’d guess from the title, focused on finding small-cap stocks with big potential — and Australian small cap stocks are not often easily traded by folks outside of Australia, so keep that in the back of your mind. Those who have international access to trading in Sydney can easily buy such stocks, but they’re not necessarily liquid or even buyable at all in the US without additional effort or fees (my favorite broker for trading in overseas markets is Interactive Brokers, in case you’re curious, but many other brokers offer international trading in select markets — sometimes it requires a phone call or other extra hurdle).
But what is it that’s being pitched here? It’s a pretty compelling-sounding idea, actually, a way to get rid of the problem of “space junk.”
We’ve been filling space with debris for 50 years now, mostly from dead or damaged satellites or from other space launch activity, and it’s logical that it will be a growing problem as more and more satellites are launched — so that’s the opening gambit of the newsletter, that Elon Musk is going to connect the world to the internet through low-orbit satellites… and then, after he gets us excited about that, he moves on to note that his favorite Aussie small-cap tech stock holds the key to those satellites not getting clobbered by other junk once they’re in orbit.
Here’s the intro:
“The genius behind PayPal, the Hyperloop, electric cars and tourist space travel unveils his biggest feat yet:
“Cheap, lightning-fast wireless internet beamed to every inch of the planet….
“And one tiny ASX-listed tech company holds the key to wirelessly connecting Earth’s entire population
“As an early investor, you could pocket 14 times your money, starting this year…”
That’s a common technique used by copywriters, taking a visible and exciting project or trend and then skipping multiple steps to connect that big trend to a particular small-cap company. That makes the small cap company seem like a bargain at any price, since they’ve got the “key” to a project that Elon Musk has been quoted as saying would cost $10 billion and take at least five years.
The real world is, of course, more complicated… with competing ideas and technologies, different strategies, and often very slow mass adoption of new technologies. Especially in space, where technologies that may seem old but are reliable are still in heavy use. Space exploration has brought us some of the core technologies that empower the modern world (and, of course, Tang), but those who deal with satellites that have to live for decades, or with keeping human astronauts safe, don’t necessarily update all systems to the hottest new thing every time.
But space junk is, of course, a big deal and it’s getting more important. It’s been a rising concern for almost 40 years, ever since Donald Kessler began warning about the possibility of “Kessler Syndrome” — which is basically a situation where one collision creates millions of tiny pieces of debris, each of which is moving far faster than a rifle bullet, and all those tiny pieces hit other things and create more debris, and the modern, satellite-powered world is destroyed almost overnight. That’s perhaps a bit of an exaggeration, given the vastness of space, but the problem is real — and is growing larger daily as more satellites go up, and as more older satellites that might not have been designed to “die” gracefully and leave orbit (as modern satellites generally are) are crowded near the most useful orbits.
There have been a few serious instances, like a Chinese anti-satellite weapon test that created a huge amount of orbiting shrapnel, and the defunct Russian satellite that collided with an Iridium satellite in 2009, destroying both and creating thousands of pieces of space junk — including some that the International Space Station had to maneuver to avoid. A lot of that junk was in orbital decay and gradually re-entered earth’s atmosphere and burned up, but certainly not all of it — and though tracking of space debris gets better all