Who’s teased as “The Undiscovered Tech Company Behind the Coming ‘TriFuel-238’ Revolution?”

Checking out the teaser pitch from Keith Kohl's Energy Investor

By Travis Johnson, Stock Gumshoe, August 18, 2021

We’ve gotten a lot of questions about this ad, which has been circulating for at least a few weeks now, so today I thought I’d dig in — what the heck is TriFuel-238?

Well, just from the name you’d think it has something to do with uranium — with Uranium-238 being the most common isotope of that element found in nature (it gets enriched into uranium-235 for use in nuclear reactors, and, in a reactor, can become plutonium-239… and then, once depleted into uranium-238 again, is sometimes used for radiation shielding or armor plating).

So what is this Tri-Fuel? Sounds like it’s some kind of new advancement in nuclear power… we get into some clues:

“‘TriFuel-238’ Is About to Undercut Every Other Form of Energy on the Planet…

“Wind, Solar… and Even Traditional Nuclear, Oil, Gas, and Coal!

“I’m not just talking about this fuel in its raw form either…

“According to numbers from the U.S. Energy Information Administration…

“After sourcing, building, and labor… after all costs are factored in…

“‘TriFuel-238’ comes out king — the cheapest of them all!”

That’s where the costs come in for nuclear, of course — not much of the price of nuclear energy comes from buying uranium, that’s a small piece of the cost structure, most of the expense is in building huge and shielded nuclear reactors, operating massive safety systems around and within those reactors, and dealing with the nuclear waste afterward.

So whatever might it be? The tease here comes in an ad from Angel Publishing, a pitch for Keith Kohl’s Energy Investor, which hasn’t been all that active in recent years — perhaps because so many energy investments have been so lousy (to the extent that Energy Investor even teased a “5G” stock with no real energy connection in Akoustis (AKTS) earlier this year, though the newsletter really got its start during the Bakken oil mania a decade ago).

The basic spiel is that they’ll send you a special report called “The Undiscovered Tech Company Behind the Coming ‘TriFuel-238’ Revolution” once you subscribe — and though this is a relatively low-cost letter ($99/yr), and offers a six-month refund window (which we applaud, most publishers thankfully still offer a refund on their entry-level letters, and that’s as it should be… even if their motivation might just be that they want to draw you into a financial relationship before they spring the $2,500 nonrefundable subscription pitch on you for their “better” services), we still, of course, never want to pay money for the reveal of a “secret” stock tip.

Lots of inbuilt psychological biases that most of us have, from anchoring bias to the sunk cost fallacy, make it harder to think clearly about an investment if the first thing we read is a wildly promotional report… and, worse, if we paid for that report (we tend to “anchor” our understanding of a company on the first thing we read about it, and we also tend to try to convince ourselves we made the right decision when we buy a product, which with an investment newsletter means we’re inclined to want to invest in whatever they recommend, to justify that purchase). So let’s try to sidestep a few of those biases, see if we can identify the stock from Kohl’s clues, and try to think about it for ourselves first… then, once you’ve got a little understanding, if you want to invest in the stock, or go subscribe to Energy Investor, well, that’s your call.

Ready? OK, so what are those clues about this “TriFuel-238?”

The hype-y promise is massive, so that’s what we have to resist a little bit… this is from the order form:

“TriFuel-238 is about to become the cheapest and most energy-abundant fuel on the planet.

“And the profits for early investors here could be out of this world.

“As TriFuel-238 takes off and grabs market share from more expensive and less reliable energy sources like coal and solar, it could hand the little-known stock behind this breakthrough a staggering $48.78 billion in revenue per year.

“Even if the company claims just a 1% piece of everything you’ve seen today…

“A $3,000 grubstake could see you collect a life-changing fortune of as much as $1,380,564.”

That’s a frequent logical leap in these teasers, the “what if” statement about claiming what sounds like a small market share in a huge business… taking one percent of the global electricity generation business is not, in fact, a small feat, but that context makes it seem like a “conservative” projection.

And how about actual clues?

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This is a tiny company, we’re told, with just a few people and some sort of patented technology…

“…the tiny, 13-man operation that’s behind this revelation…

“Which is lining up deals for this patented technology as we speak…”

What else do we learn about the stock? We get some hints about the backers:

“A Horde of America’s Most Prestigious Hedge Funds Are Silently Loading up on Shares of This Tiny Tech Company’s Stock!

“I’m talking about the likes of Rockefeller Capital Management…

“Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch…

“Bank of America… and even the $6.2 trillion Vanguard Group!”

And, here’s a little red flag, one part of the tease is that Jim Simons is on board…

“… they’re joined by trading legend Jim Simons…

“Someone Bloomberg states has no equal: “[Not] Warren Buffett, George Soros, Peter Lynch…”

“A god amongst investors.

“And now this stock-picking genius is one of the mega-money investors going in on this barely known energy-tech stock.”

Simons ran Renaissance Technologies, and posted among the best returns anyone has ever seen for the Medallion hedge fund, but it wasn’t “stock-picking genius” that did it for Simons, at least not in the way Kohl is implying here, it was really just math genius and pattern-finding genius. Simons was a math professor, he brought on tons of other math geniuses and built the most consistently profitable quantitative trading strategies ever, and kept coming up with new ones when his strategies were eventually discovered by others and began to falter.

Medallion didn’t buy stocks for qualitative reasons, because of the merits of the patents or a value argument about the company or the strength of the management team or its future prospects, that fund traded in and out of positions all the time as its quant strategies adjusted or harvested gains. And yes, you can track the thousands of positions that fund had in any given quarter, since they have to file 13F reports like every other hedge fund, so Simons gets name dropped as a shareholder in teaser ads all the time, but it’s extra pointless — his fund often bought and sold hundreds of stocks in a quarter, and by the time you see the stale data (13Fs are filed six weeks after the end of the quarter, and reflect the holdings as of the last day of that quarter), the position may well have been sold (or bought again).

Simons is not actually running the show at Medallion anymore, either, he stepped down in January, but it always galls me a little that people who know better, like Kohl, imply that somehow the best hedge fund manager in history is endorsing their stock as his favorite investment idea. So let me be clear: Yes, we’ll take the fact that Medallion owned shares at some point as a clue, but the odds are very high that Jim Simons has never thought about this stock.

OK, off the soapbox now. Sorry about that. Other clues?

We already get the feeling that this has something to do with nuclear power, but apparently there has been some recent action from the government, including from President Trump on his way out of office:

“On January 5, 2021, just days before his tenure was over…

“Then-President Trump signed Executive Order 13972…

“Which placed ‘TriFuel-238’ at the heart of ensuring the ‘national security, energy security, and economic prosperity of the United St