In this blog post, I’ll give my thoughts on industries that will almost certainly see many bankruptcies. In general, the stocks with the most bankruptcy risk have some combination of the following:
- A fall in revenues because consumers don’t want to go out in public and possibly die. Some industries will continue to be impacted even after a vaccine is developed (if it is developed).
- Fixed cost leverage. Some businesses such as restaurants are locked into leases that will cause them to burn a substantial amount of cash.
These situations may be very difficult to analyze. However, there may be opportunities in the mispricings such as going long restaurant franchises and shorting airlines, E&Ps, and the lowest quality lenders. If an industry such as airlines has high bankruptcy risk, I will also talk about related industries even if they do not have high bankruptcy risk.
Monroe Capital reports profits on their loans even after the borrower declares bankruptcy. The company has highly unconventional ideas about when impairments should be taken.
Market cap $141M, borrow about 3%. *Disclosure: I do not currently have a short position in this company but you should expect me to try to short this company.
This post is a list of short ideas, sorted by market cap. The borrow on these stocks is generally 10% or lower. Some of the more interesting shorts are AMD, PVG, TMR.TO, CRC, Chinese reverse mergers, and CGIP.
(AMD stock and its options are extremely liquid as AMD is one of the top 10 most traded stocks.)
Previously, I’ve written about how AMD’s profitability has been inflated by the cryptocurrency bubble. This will likely come to an end in the coming quarters as the market for video cards will shrink thanks to the emergence of ASICs for top cryptocurrencies. We are already seeing the effects of this as prices of video cards continue to normalize at the retail level. From PC Part Picker:
Most investment bank analysts anticipate that AMD’s earnings will go to the moon. While that type of behaviour may help their employer earn underwriting profits if AMD chooses their employer for an equity raise, these optimistic projectons are unlikely to materialize.
I/B/E/S estimates for AMD, courtesy of Sentieo.
In my opinion, AMD is a compelling short as its earnings will likely shrink rather than grow in the coming quarters.
I must admit that there is a somewhat useful tidbit of information in Pretium’s environmental filings that I discovered through Viceroy’s hit piece: Pretium was mining ore at a rate of only 2520tpd (tonnes per day) in the second half of 2017. I would note that management has repeatedly talked about expanding the mill to 3800tpd, possibly because institutional investors don’t understand why Net Present Value matters more than growth. Unfortunately, the mill expansion plan looks crazy when the underground mining was 2520tpd versus milling being done at 2895tpd; this indicates that underground mining has been the bottleneck. Management has not been forthcoming about this bottleneck. Nonetheless, I don’t think that this changes the short thesis much as it is overshadowed by the litany of Pretium’s other disclosure issues (e.g. the Ivor Jones resource model has the ultra-high-grade Cleo vein in a zero-grade domain).
This blog post will also discuss why I covered most of my Pretium short and has a section on why Viceroy’s research is nonsense. Continue reading
According to Pretium’s financials published on SEDAR on Thursday evening, the Brucejack mine is generating very strong cash flow.
Cash and cash equivalents increased by $72.5M. This is largely inconsistent with fraud. If Pretium were engaged in Worldcom-style fraudulent accounting where expenses were improperly capitalized into capex, then the capex number would be dramatically higher than $5.771M while the increase in cash would be closer to 0. Given how low capex is (even lower than what the feasibility study anticipated, which is $76.8M over the first four quarters of production)… I think that we can safely conclude that Pretium didn’t engage in Worldcom-style accounting for Q2. The market seems confident that the cash generation is real, sending the stock up 19% following the filing of financials on SEDAR. Needless to say, this development is not good for my short position.
Pretium has reported excellent grades that are in line with their 2014 feasibility study and subsequent updates to their resource model.
- Q2 feed grade: 14.9 g/t gold
- Year 1 of feasibility study: 15.4 g/t
- Reserve update announced Dec 2016: 14.5 g/t
- H2 2018 guidance:
11.6g/t to 12.82g/t after recovery losses at 2900tpd operation. If recoveries are 97%, guidance implies 12.0g/t to 13.2g/t. 12.9 to 14.2 g/t. (EDIT 7/12/2018: Management stated that the guidance was based on 2700tpd on the conference call, so I should have calculated based on 2700tpd.)
The guidance range is insanely tight as it is roughly ±5% (200,000 to 220,000 ounces). Pretium has gone from complaining about the accuracy of the sample tower data, to saying that it would provide guidance at the end of 2017 and not do so, and now it is saying that it can predict production to within 5%. Simon Dominy’s paper (draft version with working images, final version), especially Table 9, is worth a read as this newfound level of precision is very suspicious to me.
My gut feeling remains the same: this story will not end well. There’s one way to validate or invalidate my short thesis. In the coming quarters, Pretium will release its financial statements. If the mine is the real deal, cash will pile up on the balance sheet. In theory, it’s possible for Pretium to cook the books a little simply by not reporting all of its liabilities. But there’s a limitation to that type of distortion, e.g. I can’t see how it would be possible to understate more than a quarter’s worth of expenses. Over the span of 1-2 years, the financials will paint a reasonably accurate picture as to the mine’s profitability so far. Looking at financials would therefore sidestep the issue as to whether or not the reported grades are real.
Ivor Jones’ technical report uses the wrong geological controls. When Pretium expanded the bulk sampling program, it went out of its way to trace and excavate the Cleopatra vein. The Contact Mill in Montana confirmed that the vein has grades above 80g/t. The issue is that the Cleopatra vein’s geological controls are completely different than those used for the resource estimate. Pretium’s technical reports were not updated to reflect this.
Management has attributed the poor showing in the first 7 months to the ‘ramp up’ process. Management is suggesting that the ramp up will continue as “steady state” production is guided for mid or late this year. This suggests to me that management continues to lack confidence in the deposit.
So far, the Brucejack mine has yet to generate free cash flow. Without needing to get too fancy, simply looking at Pretium’s cash flow is enough to see that Pretium’s shareholders will likely be wiped out or diluted close to zero eventually. Pretium may have extreme difficulty in coming up with the $423M+ needed to refinance its credit facility on or before December 2019.
Click here for the Google Sheet.