Pretium could disclose what happened to their VP Operations

(*I don’t think that this is material to the Pretium thesis.)

On Nov 11, 2017, Pretium issued a press release announcing the promotion of David (Dave) Prins to Vice President, Operations (EDGAR, Marketwired).  Roughly a month later (sometime around Dec 19, 2017) Pretium decided to remove that press release from their website.  The workBC.ca website has a job posting dated a few days later (Dec 22, 2017) for an operations vice-president for Pretium that would start “as soon as possible”.

Is David Prins being demoted?  Was he fired?  Why is he being removed from his position?  If it’s material, Pretium should disclose instead of trying to rewrite history by deleting webpages from the company website.  (Granted, I don’t think that this is a big deal relative to Pretium’s other disclosure issues such as the monthly production reports to some but not all shareholders, Strathcona’s reasons for resigning, etc.)

EDIT (1/8/2018): So I think this is the answer… on Dec. 19, 2017, the Pretium management page changed Prins’ title from “Vice President, Operations” back to “Project Director, Brucejack Mine”.

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CNIT’s market cap jumped to $81M

For those of you interested in Chinese reverse mergers… CNIT’s share price jumped by around two-thirds today.

Back in 2013 and 2015, I wrote about the company.  In 2015, CNIT bought a company called Biznest.  Apparently they did not own Biznest already… despite CNIT email addresses showing up on Biznest’s domain registration and despite having the CNIT logo on Biznest’s website.

*Disclosure:  I am short CNIT.

RH has some weird loans

The latest Restoration Hardware 10-Q discloses 2 unusual loans.  The first loan is a $14M promissory note “secured by the Company’s aircraft”.

  1. The collateralization of the loan is unusual.  I could not find FAA registration records that would suggest that there are any airplanes currently backing this loan.
  2. Secondly, it’s unclear if the interest rate is attractive for the lender.  The statement of cash flows and contractual obligations in the Q2 2017 10-Q imply that the lender will receive $14.0M back ($0.117M plus $13.883M) by 2022 or later.  On the face of it, it seems that this loan has a term of over 4 years and a cash interest rate of 0% (!!).  Now perhaps I am wrong about the terms of this loan as the 10-Q does not disclose many details on the note (e.g. effective interest rate, non-cash components, etc.).
  3. Similarly, there is a $20M “equipment security” note that also seems to have a cash interest rate of 0%.

It is a little weird that RH was able to find a party willing to lend money in such an unusual manner.

Unfortunately, I actually don’t know what’s going on… perhaps my readers can figure this one out.

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The China hustle lives on

There are reasons as to why Chinese stocks on non-Chinese exchanges have been a problem in the past:

  1. The VIE structure used for many China stocks is dubious.
  2. China is an easily-marketable theme that attracted the pump and dump industry.
  3. No repercussions for egregious accounting fraud.

Have investors learned their lesson?  Apparently not!  More Chinese stocks with VIE structures are being IPOed.  This is despite the VIE structure becoming even more dubious.  China Law Blog has an excellent post explaining why the VIE (should have) died on January 19, 2015.  Go read it.

Draft makes clear that the State Council understands how VIEs work and that their sole function is to evade the requirements of Chinese law. The Draft makes clear that such evasion is illegal and will be prohibited upon the effective date of the new investment law.

I hope that the investors who buy into the newly-minted Chinese VIEs lend their shares out.

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Pretium: the feasibility study is not playing out

(This is a follow-up to the post about Pretium’s disappointing grades.)

Pretium’s current production should exceed 13.1g/t, yet it has been 4.660g/t 5.1g/t so far.  (EDIT 11/22/2017: fixed the calculation, which came from this post.)

According to the latest feasibility study (filed June 30, 2014), Pretium should have a stockpile of 81kt of material grading 13.6g/t gold.  The feasibility study anticipated that this stockpile would be processed in years 2 and 3 of the mine’s production phase while higher grade material would be processed first.  This is because conventional mine engineering calls for maximizing the Net Present Value of the project by mining and processing the most profitable ores first (where possible).  So, current production should exceed the stockpile head grades of 13.6g/t.  If we assume recoveries of 96.6% on 13.6g/t gold, then we would expect a hypothetical 81kt stockpile of 13.6g/t gold to yield 13.1g/t.  Production results so far indicate grades of 4.660g/t 5.1g/t for June and July (after processing losses), well below the 13.1g/t level.

It seems inappropriate for Pretium to continue to cite its feasibility study in its investor presentations (they are all most of them are on Slideshare) when current production differs so materially from what the feasibility study anticipated.

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Pretium: the additional underground exploration program management doesn’t like talking about

(To get up to speed on Pretium, you can refer to previous posts such as this and then this.)

In July 2013, Strathcona began voicing its concerns about Snowden’s resource model.  Sometime in the months after (likely as a reaction to Strathcona’s concerns), Pretium changed its underground exploration program to excavate additional material from the Cleopatra and 615L lateral veins (among other changes).  While there were press releases that mentioned the additional exploration in passing, those press releases did not disclose the reasoning behind the additional exploration.

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Pretium update: disappointing grades

(*Disclosure:  Pretium is by far my largest short position so I am biased.  Take what I say with a grain of salt and do your own homework.)

The production figures reported in Pretium’s MD&A filed on August 10, 2017 fall far short of the projections from Pretium’s latest published feasibility study.

According to the feasibility study filed on June 30 2014 (effective date June 19, 2014), year 1 production from Pretium’s flagship project would have a head grade of 15.4 g/t gold with a recovery of 96.8%.  The effective grade after recovery losses would be 14.9072 g/t gold.

Figures are from Table 17.2 of the technical report.

Compare this with the data from page 2 of the MD&A:

  • For June, 8510 ounces of gold were produced and 70805 tonnes of ore were processed.  8510 / 70805 X 31.1035 gram/ounce = 3.738 g/t for June
  • For July, 16882 ounces of gold were produced and 83667 tonnes of ore were processed.  16882 / 83667 X 31.1035 gram/ounce = 6.276 g/t for July
  • An average of 5.113 g/t for June and July

The 3.738 g/t and 6.276 g/t fall far short of hitting the 14.907 g/t mark projected from Pretium’s feasibility study three years ago.

EDIT (10/3/2017): Changed the gram<–>ounce conversion to reflect troy ounces rather than avoirdupois ounces.  I apologize for the error.

While grades so far have been low relative to the estimates from the feasibility study, Pretium does expect grades to ramp up [page 4; emphasis mine]:

Working Capital

As the Brucejack Mine continues to ramp-up grade, we expect the increased production and concomitant proceeds from the sale of doré and flotation concentrate will enable us to overcome our short-term working capital deficit. We expect as gold production ramps up this deficit will reverse (refer to the “Liquidity and Capital Resources” section below). In addition, we are evaluating other opportunities to bolster our short-term working capital.

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