Last week (July 22-25) I attended the Sprott Natural Resources virtual conference.
I enjoyed my time immensely, and I came away with a new assessment of some of the keynote speakers and a couple of the Precious Metal miners, mine developers, and prospectors.
In the post-conference survey, attendees’ opinions and recommendations were requested, and I gave mine.
Firstly, virtual meetings technology, while not yet perfected, delivered a maximum presentation of speakers, exhibits, and real-time exhibitor discussions (verbal and text) with people who were participating from all over the world. In this case, I preferred the virtual experience to my experience over the years of having personally attended over 50 of these hard money shows in several North American cities.
The #1 benefit was personal productivity in that for the first time I got to hear all the main presentations and was able to thoroughly research all the ones that interested me and drop in on any of the others with a click of the keyboard. The second was the much lower cost of attending, especially if that required flights, hotels, meals, etc. The fact that I was able to attend in pajamas was a bonus.
This was my first time at a Sprott Conference, and I must admit that for many years the Sprott organization and a few of the presenters have been on my Preferred List – as in Prefer Not to Deal With. As you know, the hard money industry is a small one. The same people have been meeting the same people for many years. The connection is marketing, something I have little interest in. I happen to be an investor and trader based on facts, not narratives. It’s not that these people are bad; it’s just a case of my not caring to hear their bad stories.
Having said what you know to be true in any case, I want to sincerely report that I had a change of mind almost from the opening moments of the conference. Rick Rule, who is the President of Sprott USA and the key person at this Conference, is someone I met at a hard money show in California in the mid-1980s. I see him in attendance at all the hard money shows, but we have not met since the one time we talked while I visited his booth some 35 years ago. I read his words a lot now like I do Eric Sprott and others from this organization because frankly, they have become world leaders in natural resources investing. I already knew they were world-class communicators. What I did not expect, however, was the almost perfect educational experience I witnessed from Rick Rule the Conference’s frontman. I was actually stunned at how good he is. If any newbie wants a mentor who is an expert in Natural Resources investing, then I will now be recommending Rick. Heck, I would add lessons on life, on growing up, to that.
The Sprott Conference producer, Albert Lu, also impressed me greatly. He interviewed all keynote speakers and major guests with such style that I think he puts the Fox Business, Bloomberg, and CNBC crowd to shame. Referring as I did earlier about productivity, I found that following Albert through four days was an incredible payback for the investment of my time. So, kudos to Albert and Rick.
I already personally knew several of the main speakers like Rob McEwen, Robert Friedland, and Randy Smallwood, among others, and got to be favorably impressed by Danielle DiMartino (https://www.amazon.com/Fed-Up-Danielle-DiMartino-Booth-audiobook/dp/B01NBUC2UW), who I had never heard of but appreciated the frank discussions of her time at the Dallas Fed. Jim Rickards (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Rickards) was another presenter who surprised me. Jim’s considerable intellect, depth of research, and clarity of presentation were unexpected although he has many fans that would be wondering why after all these years I am just now listening. Perhaps, the problem I have is in Jim’s marketing, but in person, I found him entirely credible. Another likable and knowledgeable speaker was Grant Williams, co-founder of RealVision (https://realvision.com/).
There were some companies there that I had also previously avoided but, I have now changed my mind because for the first time in a virtual setting I got to listen to their promoter. One of those, Ross Beatty, for sure impressed me, and I will now put his Equinox Gold (TSX and NYSE: EQX) on my A-list of candidates for investing.
Not everybody impressed me, however. When I first started the billcara.com blog over 16 years ago, there were a couple of characters on CNBC who I consistently criticized, namely Larry Kudlow and Don Luskin. Well, we know where Kudlow has landed – I would like to say in outer space – and his pal Luskin happened to be a special guest at this Conference.
Luskin in my view, and I’d guess in the opinion of most of Wall Street, has been more wrong about capital markets in the past 20-plus years than anybody I can think of, including Kudlow. This conference did not disappoint in that regard. Luskin was, as usual, all about Luskin. Admittedly he has charisma or whatever – let’s call it slickness. For the most part, his participation went well, but, to me, his rant about COVID-19 hit home. That was (i) uncalled for at a hard money conference, (ii) over-the-top political proselytizing, (iii) misrepresentative of fact to the point of being outrageous, and (iv) – let’s leave it there before I write something I shouldn’t.
Thanks to Kyle who sent me photos of some blogs that I published in 2005, you will see how for months I mocked Don Luskin, every day from late September 2005 into 2006. Why, you ask? Don Luskin gets by on personality but is almost always wrong in his opinions. He was flat-out wrong at the beginning of one of the great Bull markets in Precious Metals when he was the CNBC flag carrier for strong Dollar, weak Gold. I was pissed at the time that people would actually listen to his arrogant nonsense.
In any case, here is the first page of my December 2, 2005, blog. If the image is too small and too blurry to read, I apologize. Also, the right sidebar was cut off in the image that I received, but you might be able to see that I mocked Luskin for his atrocious call on Gold. I did that every day for months by updating the number of days in the right sidebar, thinking the man had to come to his senses at some point. He didn’t, and neither did Kudlow, so I kept blogging about this.
Oh, and you will see the Forbes “Favorite” star, which that magazine presented me that year. So, I know that the right people were listening to me even if Luskin never got the message. And my notes that day and the following chart link tell you that my assessment of Gold was spot on.
For the rest of the story, turn to the 30-year chart of the Gold price as seen in this link: https://goldprice.org/gold-price-charts/30-year-gold-price-history-in-us-dollars-per-ounce
The Sprott conference is annually held in Vancouver Canada, which of course had to be changed to a virtual format at the last moment because of the coronavirus pandemic. To end this blog on a positive note, I am already planning to attend next year in person as well as to gain access to the virtual version, which is filmed in its entirety and made available to participants for about six months. I am looking forward to personally meeting some – obviously not all – these people.
Today’s happy faces are almost certainly going to be even happier a year from now.