Tuesday, 5 December 2017

FanLogic Signs Letter of Intent with Multi Award Winning Singaporean Blockchain Company

FanLogic (FLGC) has been a holding of mine for a few weeks now as I looked for blockchain opportunities. It has run quite a bit from around $0.10 to over $0.70, to the point where I have done some selling on strength so readers should keep that in mind. It has announced an LOI with Singaporean Blockchain Company Easter Egg Pte. Ltd. Of note:

"Easter Egg is best described as a peer to peer gift giving platform with plans to unify into diverse categories (Payments, Remittances, Gifting, Loyalty and Rewards) on one platform by having a standard fundamental unit of exchange, a colored coin utilizing "XFER" that can enable all these transactions on a single Blockchain."

This seems like an interesting match. FLGC needed something to ignite its stagnant business where revenue has been drying up and Easter Egg needed some international exposure and a place to access cash on the capital markets to develop its business.

One thing to be aware of is that FLGC has done two major pivots in less than two years. Tank Resources turned into Spriza Media in February 2016 and Spriza Media turned into FanLogic in February 2017. That is quite unusual to see two business changes so close together, though the second transaction appears to be more of a business combination than a change of business:

"Spriza offers a proven customer acquisition platform utilizing contests, competitions and lotteries. With the integration of Fanlogic's social gaming software, Spriza now offers its brands and agencies an even more immersive and interactive platform.

The platform is coupled with the Spriza subscriber network of millions of users which provides brands and agencies access to an active audience that consumes brand driven promotions and incentives in a single sign on environment.

The merger of Fanlogic's gamification software and expertise will enhance Spriza's incentive platform, providing agencies and brands a deeper offering; increasing Spriza's market relevance in social gaming for advertising and licensed revenue opportunities.
"

FLGC closed a 5 million share private placement at 5 cents a month ago for $250,000 and a second one for 1,816,666 Common Shares at $0.30 per Unit for total gross proceeds of $545,000 yesterday. These placements are substantially in the money already, but that has been the market for these hot blockchain stocks. Whoever these strategic investors are, they are making a ton of money in a very short time span (unfortunately not me), and investors should keep that in mind once the 4 month hold period expires in Q1 2018.

FLGC sits at a $40 million market (non-diluted, plus some warrants which will now be deep in the money so expect some dilution and more cash) and now has some cash in the till to help Easter Egg execute on its business plan. Unlike purely speculative blockchain companies which have technology but no business developments yet, Easter Egg already has an app out called Easter Egg Gifting which can be accessed on the Google Play store. It has 1,000-5,000 installs, so not a lot yet. But it has generated 98 reviews with a very high 4.8 rating with 91 of the 98 reviews being 5-stars. So this company has a history of developing a highly engaging app. Let's see this if this LOI can be finalized and if FLGC can leverage its assets acquired in the Spriza Media transaction to help accelerate Easter Egg's global growth.

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Fintech Select: The Balance Sheet Issue Can Be Solved Through Warrant Exercise

A common short attack on Fintech Select (FTEC) is that its balance sheet looks terrible. This is true and I laid that out as a risk in a previous article of mine. FTEC has been upfront about this and has been making steps in fixing this issue every quarter. After its Q3 filings, the company made note that its working capital deficit has been reduced by $6 million in the last 12 months. From Q2 to Q3 we can see continued improvement. The latest balance sheet shows:



  • Shareholder's deficit of $5.6 million, a $0.5 million improvement from Q2's deficit of $6.1 million.
  • Current assets of $1.5 million less liabilities of $7.6 million for a working capital deficit of $6.1 million. This is also a $0.5 million improvement over Q2 which had $1.7 million in current assets against $8.3 million in liabilities for a deficit of $6.6 million. 
  • Net loss for Q3 was $110,000 on $900,000 in revenue and the company has been toggling back and forth between profit and losses each quarter (profitable quarters are usually due to gain on settlements of debt). The loss from operations is a little over $100,000 per quarter on average, so it's not like FTEC is paddling upstream against a very strong current when trying to eliminate this working capital deficit. The company has marginally cash flow negative operations that could turn positive in the months after the cryptocurrency point-of-sales business goes live. 
 Even with this improvement, there is still a long way to go. However, looking at the warrants and options outstanding, FTEC has the ability to pay off the debts from the proceeds of exercise. Review the chart that I have compiled, based on information available in the Q3 financial statements on SEDAR:

Share count as of September 30, 2017 was 60.6 million.  FTEC has 24.4 million warrants and options outstanding for a total fully diluted share count of 85 million. What's great about this is that this is still a reasonable share float given what the company is doing. Glance Technologies (GET.C) has had no problems flying from pennies to over $3.00 on a share count of well over 100 million.

All the warrants and options are well in-the-money right now which means the $5.9 million proceeds from exercise will eventually happen, as long as FTEC continues to execute on its business plan which has caused it to spike over $0.50 in the first place. If we apply that $5.9 million in cash generated from exercise to the working capital deficit, it just about gets eliminated with a $200,000 deficit remaining. Review the income statement:

FTEC has been recording gains on settlement of debt or forgiveness of interest as part of its goal to improve the balance sheet. This could very well continue which would accelerate the reduction of debt, cover off the $200,000 shortfall after full exercise and cover any marginal operating cash outflow the company may still have going forward. 

The next issue of course is timing. These derivatives have up to three years before expiry so it could be a while before cash comes in. The options are in the hands of management who can control when they exercise and the $0.20 strike warrants have a provision where they can be called in within a month after FTEC stays at $0.50 or above for 10 consecutive trading days. So close to $4 million could come in within, say, the next couple of months. That would be a huge chunk, enough to pay off the statement of claim made against the company by Home Trust and eliminate that negative overhang on the company.

The current share count is 62.1 million, a 1.5 million increase from 60.6 million at the end of September. That means 1.5 million have been exercised during that time period. So expect continued balance sheet improvements going forward at the expense of reasonable dilution.





Thursday, 30 November 2017

Lightning Ventures: Management Confidence Amid Terrible Financials Foretells Good News To Come

Last night Lightning Ventures (LVI.C), among many other companies I follow, released financial results. It was the company's Q2 ended September 30. On September 14, LVI said that it expects to be cash flow positive for the balance of 2017 with significant revenue growth for 2018. Here is a snapshot of the balance sheet and income statement.



Nothing in last night's financials indicates a cash flow positive company. Revenue was only $38,000 with a loss of $670,000 but $248,000 of that was stock compensation which does not impact cash flow. The balance sheet looks in lousy shape as well. $2.5 million in liabilities against only $90,000 in current assets. The bulk of LVI's value sits in the long term assets under goodwill (the technology). This is what the company has to say about its balance sheet situation in the MD&A:

For a company that looks on the brink of needing capital infusion, it certainly has confidence of not needing any more capital:

"The Company has not pledged any of its assets as security for loans, or otherwise is not subject to any debt covenants. Based on current information, the Company anticipates that its working capital is sufficient to meet its expected ongoing obligations for the coming year."

The first sentence of the statement is important. Despite the note payable of $882,000, there is no lien on the company's assets. The second sentence is telling given all the information we have on the current state of affairs with the company. Despite having liquid assets that are a small fraction of Q2's burn rate, LVI thinks that its negative working capital position is fine for the coming year.

There can be only one reason that management thinks this way. The recent business announced, namely the tank cleaning services at Blue Marble:


Must be enough to cover off the current burn rate. Or there are substantially more contracts to come. The business with Blue Marble was announced and at least partially performed in November, several weeks after the close of Q2 statements with that paltry cash balance. So the company is able to perform its duties despite the working capital position. Perhaps it is taking on more debt or has a favourable agreement with Blue Marble where payment is upfront for the services.

I am very happy with my position in LVI. Either management is completely incompetent to think that it can operate with a -$2.5 million working capital deficiency over the next year or it knows a lot more than we do about its imminent revenue and cash flow prospects.

Q3 financials are due at the start of March. Luckily LVI's year end isn't December 31 so we don't have to wait until the end of April to see the next set of financials. The company's claim of being cash flow positive was in September and that next report will cover October to December so there should be no ambiguity the next time around.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Update: The Top 10 Events I Am Waiting For In 2017

It has been a couple of weeks since I mentioned the top 10 things I am looking forward to in the remaining part of 2017. I figured now would be a good time for an update since several of those events have occurred with some positive results.

1. Fintech Select (FTEC) launch of the cryptocurrency point-of-sales

FTEC has been having steady news flow over the last couple of weeks, reflecting the imminent and serious nature of the cryptocurrency point-of-sales business. It looks like somebody was shorting FTEC during this volatility. There was an article that highlighted the company's poor balance sheet. This is something I have brought up before and I mentioned as a risk. But there's another way to look at that. Despite the bad balance sheet, look at how far the company has come in developing this business over the last few weeks. Management is obviously working very smart to accomplish the things they have accomplished so far with minimal resources. I'd like to remind people that Mohammad Abuleil took over as CEO in 2015. So he inherited that mess of a balance sheet and has been working to improve it. He is not a good interviewer, but appears to be a doer which is ultimately what we want and need from our CEO as shareholders. It looks like that shorter left with their tail in between their legs; today's spike to 48 cents had the hallmark of a short squeeze.

I think we could get news of the soft launch any day now. That being said, I continue to take advantage of the volatility, selling into strength and buying into weakness. Even after selling a part of my position, FTEC is still my largest holding in terms of dollar value thanks to this recent run and I think it could go up further. But at this point in time I don't think it's a bad idea to take SOME off the table if you are already up over 100% like I am.

For those who are not in FTEC but might be interested in swing trading the hype or as a spec buy longer term hold, I think that is still a good idea because I think FTEC is going higher. There's a difference between someone owning a stock that has grown to a large portion of their portfolio and wanting to sell SOME shares but still owning a LARGE POSITION and someone who would be buying those same shares off of that person to INITIATE a position. Apparently there's some pea-brained traders in this market who can't wrap their heads around a basic concept like this and have to conclude "oh, he is trying to dump shares to you pump and dump pump and dump". So I thought I'd make this very clear. I am selling only because I own too much. You are buying because you don't own enough. We both stand to benefit from a price increase and are betting against a price decrease.

Just because I am selling some of my shares does not mean it's a sell. But at this point in time it is every person for themselves. I bought in and recommended FTEC when it was cheap and I am deep in the money. How high will it go? I have no idea. I am not giving any further recommendations, unless business development goes so well that I think FTEC goes from a hyped up speculative play to one that is undervalued based on fundamentals. I see this stock going one of three ways:

1. There is some kind of issue that delays the soft launch, or some other unforeseen hardship. The stock goes down.

2. The soft launch and full launch go off without a hitch. The stock goes absolutely ballistic in the following few weeks then tapers off as the business isn't as lucrative as first thought. If you look at PEEK I think this would be a great example of that effect. In the days leading up to the Halloween 2016 launch of Peeks Social, The stock raced from the 20's to 60 cents. In the three weeks after that it went as high as $2.39. It has sunk back down to 40 cents since then.

3. The soft launch and full launch go off without a hitch and FTEC starts making big money. This is the scenario where the sky is basically the limit on the stock. Lottery ticket type of returns. After taking profits to the point where you cannot lose on the stock, you might consider leaving a little on the table for this scenario.

I am enjoying the ride for now. But I'm not going to answer any questions about price targets or my selling strategy beyond what I've already done here. Sell a little into strength at every new high and buy back into weakness on any pullback. Along with prudent portfolio management when the stock becomes a very high percentage of my overall wealth, more than I am comfortable with.

2. Peak Positioning Technologies (PKK) debenture financing closed

PKK expects the debenture financing to help fund the minimum $20 million in capital required to set up ASFC to close by December 15. ASFC should be fully operational fairly soon after that. I really look forward to this debenture closing because I think that is the final step for PKK to move off this frustrating 5 cent stock price, despite the company making huge strides in setting up profitable lending and fintech businesses in China this year. Although the debenture closes in a month from now, I think that once the company makes it clear that the debenture is filled and some people were unsuccessful in getting a piece of the action, the stock will quickly move up as demand for the shares suddenly increases. The 5 cent warrants associated with the debenture would no longer be available to the market.

I am in complete hold mode on PKK until I see evidence that the 5 cent level is broken for good and I'd be willing to pay slightly more for shares to add to my position. But anyone looking to initiate a position should look into doing it sooner rather than later since the clock is ticking on the debenture.

3. Global Cannabis Applications (APP) release of Citizen Green

APP has been my diamond jewel in the couple of weeks since I wrote this piece, doubling in price in that time. Basically everything I said about FTEC applies here as well. The stock is up on hype, but there are a lot of near term catalysts that could cause that hype to run on much longer. The CEO made some very aggressive near-term projections on revenue and user base growth. So it could have huge upside on execution or downside on failure. APP has grown to a large portion of my portfolio so I sold some, but the majority of my position remains intact. I will continue to sell into strength and buy back on weakness.

Anyone who is looking for a potential high-flier that will be very volatile on hype with near-term catalysts, APP is an ideal candidate. APP has a fully diluted share structure of 68.5 million shares. That is a $22 million market cap fully diluted. FTEC has 87 million fully diluted shares, a $36 million fully diluted market cap. Both of these companies compare favourably to their blockchain-fad peers which have market caps well in excess of $100 million. Both APP and FTEC offer short term catalysts that drive revenue-generating businesses.

Another stock to consider in all this is ThreeD Capital (IDK). It bought into the recent APP private placement and owns 5 million APP shares (including convertible securities). If APP continues to run hard, IDK could follow suit as the value of this investment increases.

4. First Global Data (FGD) financials

FGD's Q3 financials, along with the rest of the financial releases mentioned on this list are due to come out by November 29. I'm most interested to see FGD's release. With profits in four of the last six quarters, it's the most advanced of the microcap companies I am invested in.

Q2 was a bit of a disappointment with single-digit growth over Q1 and a net loss. That being said, it was still a record quarter in terms of revenue for the company. I would like to see growth over Q2 well into the double digits. Profits will be nice, but if the company had to aggressively hire to fulfill many of the deals it has signed in 2017, I will be okay with that.

5. PKK financials

Revenue was $4,000 for Q3, aligned with my expectations that revenue would be small for the ASDS business that initiated in September. No orders were processed on Gold River and I think it's safe to say none will be processed until ASFC is live. While this revenue number seems paltry, keep in mind that this is just the first month of a recurring revenue business model. I look forward to a hockey stick type of revenue growth with profits once ASFC is up and running.

6. Lightning Ventures (LVI) financials

LVI claimed it was cash flow positive going forward in September. The real interesting set of financials will be Q4, but September does cover one month of Q3 so I think there will be something to look forward to here. LVI has been the beneficiary of much of my sells that took place on FTEC and APP. I bought up as many shares that I could under 4 cents and now that it is 4 cents I will spread any future profits from those two winners to other stocks. I am quite happy with my larger LVI position. I have a gut feeling something good will happen here and at 4 cents or less it is a good gamble.

7. FTEC financials

A week left until financials must be released. FTEC has pulled profits recently, but that has come in the form of gains on debt re-settlement. I would like to see continued re-settlement of debt that will further improve the balance sheet. I am not that excited to see the income statement just yet since none of the new proposed offerings have launched as of the end of Q3. But it would be nice to see some traction on the existing business.

8. FGD 40 U.S State licenses by the end of the year

FGD estimated to have 40 state money services licenses by the end of the year. The goal is to have the final 10 states in Q1. Hopefully California is one of the licenses that will get done in 2017 so FGD and LianLian Pay can fully launch and promote the WeChat remittance service across the U.S. The vast majority of Chinese citizens or people of Chinese decent reside in California or New York so the deal is getting minimal reach right now with the existing state licenses. 

9. Mission Ready Services (MRS) purchase order

As I admitted in my previous piece, I had to nuke my MRS position to load up on the blockchain name-drop fad, namely APP. This has turned out to be the correct move and now I have an interesting decision on my hands.

The news of a purchase order around MRS' $400 million multi-year supply agreement could be the biggest news maker of them all. But there comes a point in time when we're nearing the 11th hour. We're in the last week of November and we know that the last two weeks of December are basically write-offs. We are nearing a situation where the market might panic that this order won't come in Q4. I don't mean to make other people nervous, I am just coming from my perspective which is I have never spoken to the company and I don't think at this point management could say anything to reassure me that wouldn't be insider information anyways.

Now the decision point is, do I want to buy shares now, wait for a panic to buy on a dip or risk not having a position and waking up one day to see MRS up 300% by 9:45AM? Or breath a sign of relief after watching the stock tank on news of issues/delays with the deal. It's the same decision everyone else has to make.

10. Peeks (PEEK) proposed merger with Personas

People have private messaged me, confused that after the announced deal and 73 cent per share valuation that the stock had a very short-lived bounce and is back down. I was not surprised. To use one too many cliches, the stock is damaged goods right now and the market is in "show me the money" mode. PEEK isn't going to move until it demonstrates a marked step towards improved financials - much higher revenue growth, lower burn rate or profits, and strong growth in users.

At first this looks like I have a double standard. I'm willing to forgive PKK and not sell out of that stock despite the very obvious miss of the $500 million revenue and $25 million EBITDA projection that was set for this year. The difference is PKK didn't execute on that promise for (what I think is) a valid reason. The more lucrative opportunity around ASFC came up which should substantially increase profits once it goes live which will be very soon. Peeks has no excuse for not executing on some of the promises made at this time last year, except that Mark underestimated the difficulty and time needed to complete the tasks ahead of him. But with this may come an opportunity as well.

I think the stock is cheap and I now have enough spare cash to take a position once again. I plan to have a nominal position in time for the vote on the transaction just to get a seat at the meeting. Anything beyond that I'll have to take a wait and see approach. I would vote for the deal. It could always be better for shareholders like any deal could be, but it's not so off-base that it's worth voting against it and causing more headaches. Shareholders would be shooting themselves in the feet by voting no. Might as well agree to it so the company can move onto greener pastures ASAP.

Monday, 13 November 2017

The Top 10 Events I Am Waiting For In 2017

2017 has about a month and a half left in it, but there is still so much to look forward to by the end of the year for several stocks that I am watching closely. Here is a top ten list of what I am looking forward to:

1. Fintech Select (FTEC) launch of the cryptocurrency point-of-sales

FTEC has been making very good progress over the last couple of weeks in getting ready for the soft launch of its Selectcoin point-of-sales network, enabling people to buy and sell bitcoin and other cryptocurrency at thousands of locations across Canada. I expect the soft launch of a few sample locations to be announced at any moment. After a couple of weeks of a successful trial run, I expect the full launch to go live, creating a national news event and a high-margin ATM business almost overnight.

I have been selling into rallies and buying back on pullbacks, but FTEC has grown to become my largest holding. Dollars and cents wise, I think other names on this list have bigger deals signed or coming, but nothing impacts local Canadian investors and regular people like this business will. I expect the hype to be massive as it will be a noteworthy news event on a very trendy topic right now - bitcoin and blockchain - which will resonate with people, be exciting, and be very easy to explain to the masses who might not just be interested in transacting and investing in bitcoin, but also with the company that is making accessible to million of Canadians.

Only time will tell how the company deals with this opportunity over the following months and years. But I believe very strongly that early investors will make out like bandits (some already have with the recent move up) and it's up to them if they want to hold some FTEC for the long term. At this point in time I am riding the hype and will evaluate a long-term hold at the appropriate time when I can see a path to financials that justify it.

2. Peak Positioning Technologies (PKK) debenture financing closed

PKK expects the debenture financing to help fund the minimum $20 million in capital required to set up ASFC to close by December 15. ASFC should be fully operational fairly soon after that. I really look forward to this debenture closing because I think that is the final step for PKK to move off this frustrating 5 cent stock price, despite the company making huge strides in setting up profitable lending and fintech businesses in China this year. Although the debenture closes in a month from now, the deadline to request participation is coming up. Once the company makes it clear that the debenture is filled and some people were unsuccessful in getting a piece of the action, I think the stock will quickly move up as demand for the shares suddenly increase because the 5 cent warrants associated with the debenture are no longer available to the market.

3. Global Cannabis Applications (APP) release of Citizen Green

I have been watching how hot blockchain and cannabis stocks have been. APP has been my diamond in the rough that I have been slowly accumulating at cheap prices and it finally got some love today. It closed at 16.5 cents, the highest I have seen since I have owned it.

APP has proposed the release of the Citizen Green platform in Q4. From what I gather, portions of the platform will be released at different times and countries. The basic premise of Citizen Green is to organize and facilitate anecdotal data based on the experiences and feedback of individuals using various strains medicinal marijuana for different ailments. APP's apps will collect that data and put it into blockchain for a data bank of user reviews. It looks like artificial intelligence will be used to try to turn these anecdotes and reviews into actionable medical data for regulators. The company will also leverage the blockchain to present its own token loyalty program.

These initiatives sound like superb hype fodder for the blockchain and cannabis chasers out there and I am guessing based on the tone of the company's recent magazine interview that the rollout will be continuous, leading to a steady news flow. Like FTEC, only time will tell how financially lucrative this will all be, but early investors should make out like bandits on hype here too. The share float is the smallest of any company on this list, and therefore most susceptible to big market moves.

4. First Global Data (FGD) financials

FGD's Q3 financials, along with the rest of the financial releases mentioned on this list are due to come out by November 29. I'm most interested to see FGD's release. With profits in four of the last six quarters, it's the most advanced of the microcap companies I am invested in.

Q2 was a bit of a disappointment with single-digit growth over Q1 and a net loss. That being said, it was still a record quarter in terms of revenue for the company. I would like to see growth over Q2 well into the double digits. Profits will be nice, but if the company had to aggressively hire to fulfill many of the deals it has signed in 2017, I will be okay with that.

5. PKK financials

With ASDS up and running, I am excited to see gross margins and revenues in the very early stages of this profitable fintech business.

6. Lightning Ventures (LVI) financials

LVI claimed it was cash flow positive going forward in September. The real interesting set of financials will be Q4, but September does cover one month of Q3 so I think there will be something to look forward to here.

7. FTEC financials

FTEC has pulled profits recently, but that has come in the form of gains on debt re-settlement. I would like to see continued re-settlement of debt that will further improve the balance sheet. I am not that excited to see the income statement just yet since none of the new proposed offerings have launched as of the end of Q3. But it would be nice to see some traction on the existing business.

8. FGD 40 U.S State licenses by the end of the year

FGD estimated to have 40 state money services licenses by the end of the year. The goal is to have the final 10 states in Q1. Hopefully California is one of the licenses that will get done in 2017 so FGD and LianLian Pay can fully launch and promote the WeChat remittance service across the U.S. The vast majority of Chinese citizens or people of Chinese decent reside in California or New York so the deal is getting minimal reach right now with the existing state licenses. 

9. Mission Ready Services (MRS) purchase order

The news of a purchase order around MRS' $400 million multi-year supply agreement could be the biggest news maker of them all. It sits only at #9 on my list because I have been in and out trading the stock. Shamefully, I had to give in and chase the blockchain fad rather than buy and hold a company which I feel strongly will do well and has real numbers to back it up. But out of all the companies I have invested in, I know this one the least (I haven't spoken with management) and feel the least attached to it. So I'm playing the roulette wheel that my blockchain-related stocks will run before this one announces a huge order so I can reload a huge position at a cheap price. But I am watching closely either way.

10. Peeks (PEEK) proposed merger with Personas

This one is ranked lower as well despite a larger news event because I don't own any PEEK shares at the moment. The stock is halted and there is a good chance this halt could be related to the proposed combination with Personas. Once that news is out, I can re-evaluate the situation and if the price, wherever it opens, represents a good buying opportunity.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

If AMD Was Canadian, It Would Be A $20 Stock Right Now


Summary

AMD had a strong Q3, greatly aided by the impact of GPU demand thanks to cryptocurrency mining.
The bearish argument against AMD, led by Morgan Stanley, includes the assumption that demand for the GPUs for crypto mining will fade.
In Canada, the deal flow has been incredible for blockchain and cryptocurrency stocks. Canadians can't get enough of anything to do with this industry right now.
September headlines that include robust hiring in the industry and Fidelity experimenting with mining suggests that this market is nowhere near topping out.
I believe that the assumption that crypto mining will fade is wrong and AMD will beat expectations for this sector of its business.

 
If Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (AMD) was a Canadian company, it would be a $20 stock right now. And I'm not talking about the win from the exchange rate difference either. There are many articles on Seeking Alpha and elsewhere that dive into AMD's improved financial performance in Q3 and present bullish and bearish arguments over AMD's position in the microprocessor competitive landscape. I encourage readers to read those articles if they want an awareness of the overall business. I wish to talk specifically about cryptocurrency and its impact on GPU revenues in the near future. As a Canadian investor who has seen the absolute craze the blockchain gold rush has had on our stock market, I believe that analysts and even AMD's CEO has it wrong about this space.

AMD tanked on Monday after a downgrade from Morgan Stanley, with the price target being cut from $11 to $8. The analyst stated that he expects "cryptocurrency to gradually fade from here". CEO Lisa Su hasn't helped matters much by stating the following on the Q3 conference call:
In terms of the headwinds, we have the semi-custom seasonality and we're also predicting that there will be some leveling-off of some of the cryptocurrency demand. As we look at it, it continues to be a factor, but we've seen restocking in the channels and stuff like that. So we're being a little bit conservative on the cryptocurrency side of the equation.
In addition to these suggested headwinds, there appears to be a prevailing trend among both bears and bulls that downplay the growth in GPU business due to the cryptocurrency mining craze. It's somehow lower quality revenue, subject to faddish boom and bust periods. To me, a dollar is a dollar is a dollar. As long as the RX family keeps selling, I think AMD is a compelling buy at these levels. Then bears and bulls can argue until their faces turn blue over the fate of the CPU business at higher prices. The demand for the GPUs will be subject to the price of Ethereum, which is in constant heart attack mode every day from now to forevermore.  So from that perspective I get the concern. But my experience as a Canadian investor, there is no way the bust will come any time soon.

Enter Hive Blockchain and the parade of blockchain bandwagon jumpers

Hive Blockchain Technologies Ltd. (TSXV:HIVE) made its trading debut on September 18th through a reverse takeover of a shell listed on the TSX Venture Exchange. HIVE's business plan is setting up data centers and infrastructure to mine Ethereum, partnering with Genesis Mining. As in other words, it's not exactly rocket science or the cure for cancer. On the day of its debut, the stock closed at $0.97. A month and a half later and HIVE has risen to $4.48, over a billion dollars in market cap. In less than two months, HIVE has raised the following (all figures in $CAD):
Perhaps to investors in the United States, a company that has managed to grow to a billion dollar market cap from a shell and raise $76.5 million in less than two months isn't that impressive. But you have to understand us Canadians. When we go in on something, we go ALL IN:
  • The mining craze of the early to mid 2000's.
  • Peak oil shortly after that.
  • Weed stocks since 2014.
Our markets are known for heavy sector focus and the free flow of investment fund cash into those sectors. Blockchain and cryptocurrency looks like the next one as a whole host of bandwagon jumpers are getting in on the action and raising funds. I believe that this is just the tip of the iceberg:
  • Global Blockchain Technologies Corp. (TSXV:BLOC), an investment company intent on getting into the blockchain and digital currency space, has risen from $1.54 to $2.34 in less than a month after its change in focus to blockchain without having done much of anything so far.
  • LeoNovus Inc (TSXV:LTV) has risen from $0.10 to $0.55 since HIVE debuted, having announced a preliminary agreement with a Big 6 Canadian bank for blockchain hardened data storage and security software.
  • Fintech Select (TSXV:FTEC) is in the final stages of releasing thousands of point-of-sale terminals for bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies across Canada. API integration was completed last week. There are currently around 260 in Canada and 1,750 worldwide.  
  • Sheldon Inwentash, former Pinetree Capital (TSX:PNP) executive and the highest paid Wall Street CEO in 2010, has returned with a new capital pool ThreeD Capital Inc. (CSE:IDK) with the intent of getting into blockchain-related businesses. Read my article about this here
These are just a few examples of the blockchain and cryptocurrency businesses that are popping up all over Canada's stock markets. But the chase for quick cash in one the the world's most notorious markets for quick cash chasers isn't the only barometer for the cryptocurrency market. According to this article in September, jobs in the cryptocurrency industry increased by over 100% compared to the previous six months. Fidelity has been looking hard into blockchain assets and has admitted to starting a small mining operation in September. The setting up of futures markets will help miners to reduce the fluctuation of cash flows according to spot prices, making this a more viable business to more people. None of these are indications that crypto mining has peaked or is fading like what the Morgan Stanley analyst suggests.

Perhaps U.S. investors are more cautious or skeptical of new industries like this and that Morgan Stanley analyst or other bears can use that skepticism as a way to trash AMD. I understand the thought process behind the idea that cryptocurrencies are a house of cards ready to collapse at any time. I have written about this risk. But how are cryptocurrencies really that much more of a house of cards than the commodity futures markets or ETFs like SPDR Gold Shares (GLD) where far, far more paper trades than the actual underlying value of the goods backing that paper? Cryptocurrencies are like baseball cards or art. They don't have any inherent value, but they are worth exactly how much someone is willing to pay for them. And you can fetch 6-digits or more on the world's most sought after pieces of art or baseball cards, and it has been that way for years. So who knows how long this can last.

My experience is there is no indication that the cryptocurrency market and crypto mining markets are going to go away any time soon. The Morgan Stanley analyst is wrong about this being a fading revenue driver for AMD and AMD's CEO is wrong for being overly conservative about this industry, giving bears ammunition to say that AMD's strong Q3 performance will be short lived. I have taken advantage of that and managed to buy into a small position into AMD this week.


Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Has Lightning Ventures Bottomed Out?

Yesterday morning was looking ugly for Lightning Ventures (LVI.C), a stock that I have briefly talked about before. It was originally a small position for me but I have been quietly loading up during this price weakness to accumulate a fairly substantial position. It's not to the size of my larger holdings like PKK, FGD and FTEC, where I have all had a chance to speak with management personally, but it's not chump change either. LVI was down to 2.5 cents where I took an opportunity to buy more, but closed at 3.5 cents on heavy buying in the afternoon. This morning I bought some more at 3.5 cents as the asks dwindled and as I write this the stock has large bids building at 3 cents and briefly hit 4 today. So far, so good.

On the September 14 press release "Lightning Industries Establishes New Distributorships in Mexico, Texas and New Mexico", management claimed that it "expects the balance of 2017 to be cash flow positive and anticipates significant revenue growth in 2018 based on an evolving growth trajectory". You would think that would be positive news, along with the news releases since then, but the stock has tanked from 8 cents all the way down to yesterday's low of 2.5 cents before the bounce. Why?

First, there was a private placement and debt settlement at 2 (a portion at 5) cents that began free trading on October 28. In addition to that, on September 19, Domenari Capital, LLC disposed of 27.6 million shares at 0.75 cents. I don't know the entire story behind why the firm did this (keeping in mind LVI's CEO Don Rainwater is a senior partner at Domenari so this is a friendly deal), but this is what LVI said on the matter:

"Due to the large volume of investor enquiries regarding the Domenari Capital stock disposition, as announced on September 21, 2017, the Company would like to inform shareholders that the shares were reallocated to management, board members and a number of strategic investors that will add significant shareholder value over time.  The shares are subject to the original stock restriction agreement between the Company and Domenari Capital with a thirty-six month vesting schedule.  Further, these parties have all agreed to voluntarily have their shares held in safekeeping with counsel.  It should also be noted that this arrangement was initiated earlier in the year during which time the share price of the Company was substantially lower than the current market pricing."

Since then members of the management team have also been buying on the open market, in addition to buying the cheap shares from Domenari. I was given an opportunity to buy some shares from Domenari as well and I took it. Considering that this was the main driver for the stock price to tank below my average cost from the shares purchased on the open market, I'm going to consider this purchase my "get even" transaction. Obviously people who managed to really load up on the Domenari sale are the big winners and those people who did not gain access to this transaction and have been buying only on the open market have been the losers. But I think we will all be winners on this stock in due time.

Even with the recent dilution, the share count is a reasonable 140 million plus 21 million warrants. That leaves a lot of room for share price appreciation should the company make good on its expectation that:
  1. The balance of 2017 will be cash flow positive.
  2. Significant growth in revenue will be achieved in 2018.
Being cash flow positive doesn't necessarily mean the company will be profitable. The biggest contribution to a variance between accounting profits and positive cash flow would be depreciation and amortization. The company has not recorded any significant amount of that to-date, but does have goodwill associated with the acquisition of the Lightning subsidiary on the balance sheet so that policy should change, probably by the audited annual report.

The real excitement surrounding this stock should be the growth prospects in 2018 and beyond. With the caveat the the term "significant" is very ambiguous. LVI averages about 5-6 digit quarterly revenue numbers now. A doubling of that run rate could be considered significant growth but probably won't get the market all that excited. My view of significant should be revenue with a run rate per quarter in the millions. Let's see if that is management's definition as well.

LVI is an oil and gas services provider looking to use its technology to reduce the costs, enhance efficiency and increase the production of oil and gas wells. On July 5, the company announced that it provided its Hot Oil Trailer to PEMEX, Mexico's state-owned petroleum company, for demonstration purposes. The September 14 press release also made note of two new product lines and the establishment of distributorships in Mexico as well as Texas and New Mexico.  The press release on September 28 noted a JV created between the company and COSI Energy Services in order to provide hot oil and storage tank cleaning services throughout Texas and New Mexico.

There is nothing there that explicitly states exactly how LVI will be cash flow positive going forward in 2017 nor does it guarantee any revenue growth. However, if we are to believe these bold statements made by management, we should expect a press release indicating a large contract coming shortly. The suspicious uptick in buying after the stock looked like death yesterday morning has my radar up for such a press release in the near future.

LVI's technology is backed by US Patent #6478089 and US Patent Pending #62485036. Patent #6478089 was granted in 2002. It's unusual to see a 15 year old patent make waves in an industry now, so perhaps the patent pending technology works in conjunction with the patented technology for LVI's oil and gas well service offerings.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Pinetree Capital Founder Sheldon Inwentash Looks To Re-Emerge With Blockchain Focus

Pinetree Capital (PNP) founder Sheldon Inwentash is back in the spotlight, diving head first into the latest trend in the junior investment world - blockchain. His new capital pool, ThreeD Capital Inc. (IDK.C) has been on a tear lately just like most other blockchain stocks. I have thrown a few pennies at this for fun, but my main concern of his involvement in blockchain is with Fintech Select (FTEC), of which he sits on the Board of Directors. This interview held by Agoracom gets into the basics of Inwentash's plan to re-emerge with blockchain as his focus:

In the interview he says all the right things. Such as ensuring that the capital pool invests only in high quality blockchain assets that have realistic shots of becoming viable businesses. The interviewer was a little wishy-washy for my taste, sucking up to the man who some people don't hold in very high regard thanks to what happened to Pinetree. Agoracom is an IR service so it probably got paid to conduct this interview and act like a cheerleading service for its duration. I don't really get the purpose of this. Agoracom has been doing this for years. You would think that the firm would have learned by now that if you act like a cheerleader instead of an interviewer, the interview looks like a cheesy pump and dump no matter how serious and thoughtful the person being interviewed was when answering the questions. It's like watching Fox News interview Donald Trump.

Unlike these firms, I usually don't get paid for the material I write (the occasional time I do, it will be explicitly stated). Should I be able to meet Sheldon Inwentash at some point in time, my first question will be along the lines of: "So what have you learned from the events of Pinetree and what safeguards will you put in place this time around to make sure something like that doesn't happen again?" This is the kind of question that prospective investors want to hear an answer for in addition to his thoughts on blockchain technologies, particularly if they are familiar with the Pinetree story.

I'm not going to get into the details surrounding the events that led to Inwentash parting ways with Pinetree. All you need to know about Pinetree can be summarized in this 20-year chart:


Inwentash's all in style of investing was a great creator and destroyer of wealth over those two decades. Every smartass on the message boards likes to trash this man for his final few years at Pinetree without recognizing the years of success prior to that. I like to take a balanced approach. In order for the chart to have had that big crash starting with the 2008 stock market collapse, it would have had to have that big rise and value creation we see in the years prior to that.

When one person introduced me to this opportunity, my first instinct was like many others..."why do I want to invest with the guy who destroyed Pinetree?". His excuse went something like this: "Well, you know, it's not Inwentash's fault that the junior resource market turned on him".

I don't buy this line of reasoning. Yes it's not his fault that the market turned on him, but he did get caught up in it as an investor and ended up making the wrong moves. Warren Buffett didn't get caught up in a five-year TSX Venture mining bear market. Sheldon Inwentash did, and did so on leverage. A fund like Sprott, which also took a huge hit during this time, at least has an explicit investment mandate to invest in the resource sector. I don't know if Pinetree had a specific investment mandate to overweight in mining stocks at this time. But given the history of sector rotation and that a substantial amount of Pinetree's portfolio was in tech stocks like Keek and POET Technologies, I would think there was not, at least not to the extent like a fund like Sprott would be. So Pinetree's leveraged blow up is squarely on his shoulders. If he is candid about this and offers lessons learned it will go a lot further in silencing the critics than the Agoracom way of pretending that 2008-2014 never happened.

With all that being said, we cannot discount Inwentash's successes, such as the ones that Agoracom is more than happy to share:


There has to be something said about Inwentash's resilience. He is in his 60's, and has accumulated hundreds of millions, maybe close to a billion, in net worth. He could just as easily have rode off into the sunset after the Pinetree debacle and live out his golden years in peaceful luxury. Instead, he made a conscience choice to start from scratch with a little CSE listing worth $15 million in market cap in IDK, the acronym for "I Don't Know" and decided to immerse himself in a burgeoning new tech industry that will be filled with shysters and sharks looking to capitalize on the next fad. He has put what's left of his reputation on the line on his ability to weed out those shysters and invest into only quality blockchain assets. This looks like the actions of a man on a mission, someone who is motivated by more than just money, of which he has more than enough. I think Inwentash wants to prove to the Canadian small cap investing world that his final years at Pinetree were the outlier to his career, not the defining moment.

As an investor, it's up to oneself to determine if Inwentash is up to the task and how much of a personal stake each of us wants in on that bet. As an early-stage FTEC investor, I think I am in pretty good shape. How successful will Sheldon Inwentash be with blockchain? Only time will tell. But chances are good that he won't immediately crash and burn. He will use his decades of experience and vast Rolodex to surround himself with people who won't completely screw up any blockchain initiative from day one or try to screw him over. That means early-stage investors will set to benefit. As long as Bitcoin doesn't go crashing 90% in value tomorrow (and I think that does have a non-zero chance of happening at some point in the future, but not in 2017 or 2018), this industry should be hot for a while. Creating money from nothing more than computing power through an ICO? That is Wall Street's ultimate wet dream. Creating a secure means of exchange that is at the epitome of a democratic and self-governed process with minimal government ability to control it? That is every anarchist millennial techie's wet dream. There are too many people with power and knowledge who stand to gain from this industry being a success right now. If someone thinks cryptocurrencies are all one big Ponzi scheme, well, at least they would have to admit that the Ponzi needs some time to work its way through the system so the people on top have a chance to win.

Inwentash's big money and investing experience plus smart blockchain advisors plus a hot industry plus a focus on businesses that can be cash flow positive in the near-term is a recipe for massive investor gains. Even if those gains are only on hype. Since I wrote about Hive Blockchain Technologies (HIVE) a little over a month ago, the stock has gone absolutely berserk with a market cap of over $700 million. What I have heard is that there is an effective promotion behind HIVE (I am going only on what I have heard, I have no evidence and don't really care enough to research it for myself) and so many people have fallen in love with this business plan of setting up data centers in Iceland and Sweden (where the costs to run data centers are cheap) to mine cryptocurrency.

I remember someone recently asked me if FTEC is getting into mining, as if the business has some kind of deficiency if it doesn't. What people don't understand is that ANYONE can get into mining if they want. Literally anyone who is willing to put money into developing a data center either by themselves or as part of a consortium can do this. Whether they can run it profitably or not is another issue entirely, which I assume is why HIVE is so hot - because people think it can.

Genesis Mining is HIVE's partner and largest shareholder in this investment. Just look at the first page of Google results for "Genesis Mining", as it has been a leading provider of cloud mining services:


It seems that people who are investing private equity in this industry and know a lot more about it than TSX Venture retail traders aren't that impressed with Genesis Mining. A lot of "5 out of 10" type of reviews where some people are happy and have seen a return on their investment and others think it is a complete scam. This is the kind of critical thinking that HIVE investors and people like Sheldon Inwentash need to do when looking at the blockchain industry. What did I just say about shysters above? Well, some people think Genesis Mining fits the bill. A lot of those reviews go back to 2015 before the concept of HIVE even existed so it's not like this is one big conspiracy to short and distort a hot penny stock. I have no position in HIVE.

Someone recently said something to me which really resonated. During the Yukon gold rush, the people who consistently made big money weren't the prospectors themselves, but the people who provided the auxiliary services to the miners. Fred Trump, Donald Trump's grandfather, grew his fortune from providing "lodging services" to people of the Yukon during this time. This is what I like about FTEC trying to become a facilitator for the masses to trade bitcoin. It's not getting involved in cryptocurrency mining and speculation itself (at least not yet). It is setting up its own network of point-of-sales for regular people to gain access to buy and sell bitcoin and other cryptocurrency at thousands of retail locations across Canada. The company completed the API integration last week and is finalizing the deal with a national cryptocurrency dealer so it sounds like it is close to going live. Once it does go live I think it will be a national news event. Couple that with the hot blockchain industry and Inwentash's involvement at this pivotal time and I think there is a recipe for a massive move on hype.

I have no price target on FTEC. Take a look at my article on Seeking Alpha for more information and an outline of some of the risks. I think FTEC is heading towards profitable but also very volatile times so buy and sell at your own risk. IDK is probably in the same boat. It's up to you if you want to invest in HIVE but keep in mind that the market cap is about 50 times higher for HIVE than it is for FTEC or IDK. My investing style is if I'm going for these very high risk companies, I want the ones with the most explosive upside potential. Is it easier for FTEC and IDK to hit $100 million in market cap or for HIVE to hit $5 billion? I believe the former to be more likely.

Monday, 16 October 2017

DGLT and Urban FT: The Ridiculous Saga Continues

Digiliti Money Group (DGLT) looked like is was turning a corner, up to an $0.80 close. I knew there had to be something amiss because the previous two days saw last minute closes in the low $0.50's on very low volume, purposefully cutting the stock price's rise on the day despite most of the volume going through in the $0.70 to $0.75 range. This time around it was pushed up to a day high. Then after hours we got this tweet from Kasey Kaplan:



You can see my comment in response to this development. So what does this mean?

He's likely telling the exact truth, but a truth that would benefit the cause of Urban FT. This wouldn't be the first time DGLT balked at an offer only to come back to the table later. So far about 90% of the information we have gotten about this proposed deal is from Urban FT through various articles and social media circles. Based on that I can only surmise that Urban FT is acting in good faith and putting forth a fair deal and DGLT management, or what's left of it, is acting like a bunch of incompetent rubes. It would be nice to see an 8-K from DGLT management so shareholders can get an official update on the story and hear DGLT's side of it. Until then, Urban FT can play these tweeting games which the firm obviously knows will impact the stock price but Kasey and team can likely get away with it if they are posting factual and timely information. All in the name of providing market transparency when there is none on DGLT's side.

I think the term supportive is particularly important in this instance. I think that this implies that the loan between UFT and DGLT is still active and that there is no imminent danger of the company going bankrupt, despite DGLT management playing with matches while it is teetering on the edge of insolvency. Or that's what we have been led to believe. But with only getting Urban FT's side of the story in the media and without properly audited financials or recent quarterly results, who really knows about DGLT's cash situation.

What will happen tomorrow? Who knows. Gut instinct is that there will be a sell off because this will be seen as bad news and cause a knee-jerk reaction. We don't know if Kaplan's tweet is merely being as diplomatic as possible because Urban FT must know it is under a microscope for price manipulation that may have at least partially led to the T12 halt. Or if he is being completely honest and Urban FT remains in hot pursuit of DGLT.

It could also be Kaplan trying to lobby retail shareholders behind Urban FT. Although there is a lot of anger directed Kaplan and Urban FT, some of it deserved, this is the only side we have been able to rely on for information. In my eyes, and others, these prospective buyers are trying to act in good faith even if they originally goofed up by yapping on Twitter about this buyout offer. It's DGLT management dropping the ball. That's where all anger should be directed except that there is seemingly no one answering DGLT's calls and emails in which to direct anger towards.

So instead of a drop, perhaps there is a rise tomorrow? Someone has been buying up large blocks of shares in the $0.70 to $0.75 region over the last few days. This wouldn't be a retail day trader trying to load up on a grey market stock. Someone is buying to accumulate shares. Possibly for a hostile takeover by Urban FT? Another entity buying up shares for whatever reason? The main reason to buy on the open market other than the obvious that one thinks the stock will go up would be to secure votes in a hostile takeover bid or to try to deny that bid.

I might put up some asks tomorrow at higher prices to see if they get taken out (not my entire holding, just a part of it). I suggest other shareholders do the same. A substantial block of shares up for sale at a reasonable price (say, anywhere between $0.75 to $1.50) could get taken out if my thesis about the big buyer is correct. I think it is wise to start offloading this position given the nonsense surrounding it, but I don't want to sell too much too soon and give a potential bidder cheap shares. Tomorrow should be an interesting day.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Hive Blockchain's Hot Debut Gives Hope To Fintech Select Investors

Hive Blockchain Technologies (HIVE) made its debut on the Venture today and is trading at $0.90, up 200% from the price of the financing that took place during the reverse takeover transition from Leeta Gold. I have not purchased this stock today as I have exhausted all cash resources, but it does look interesting.

I recommend reading the registration statement filed on SEDAR:

http://www.sedar.com/GetFile.do?lang=EN&docClass=13&issuerNo=00004998&issuerType=03&projectNo=02675521&docId=4181847

It's 134 pages and I have just skimmed through it quickly, but it appears to provide a detailed risk-reward profile of investing in blockchain and cryptocurrency. I think this is a valuable source for Fintech Select (FTEC), formerly Selectcore (SCG), investors such as myself.

HIVE has 226,584,760 shares outstanding, about 250 million fully diluted. So at $0.90 the fully diluted market cap is $225 million.

FTEC has 60.6 million shares outstanding and another 26.7 million in warrants. The fully diluted market cap at $0.20 is $17.5 million. Clearly there is large upside and investment demand for FTEC based on what I have seen with HIVE today if it can achieve some of the initiatives stated in the AGM several weeks ago. I am taking a wait and see approach for the remainder of 2017 to see what this company can do.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Talks Between Urban FT And Digiliti Continue: My Guess Is A Reverse Takeover

An 8-K filed by Digiliti (DGLT) last week showed that the company came to an official agreement with Urban FT's financing wing UFT Equities for a Secured Promissory Note. People have asked my opinion on it so here it is. Why have I decided to post this on my personal blog instead of Seeking Alpha? Seeking Alpha qualified my first write up on DGLT as an article. That means I get paid for it. My next two write ups didn't qualify for whatever reason and I had to post them as blogs. Seeking Alpha puts ads up on blog posts but doesn't pay out for them so I figure instead of giving the site content and traffic for free I might as well offer readers an ad free experience and expand the reach for my personal blog. Here are some of my recent Canadian small cap picks if interested:

Mission Ready Services Signs $400 Million Deal The Military
Seven Other Stocks I'm Watching Closely for the Rest of 2017

In addition to the 8-K, there was an attachment disclosing the details of the note. It's long and filled with legalese, but the main takeaway that shareholders will want to know from this is:

"If a definitive agreement with respect to the Proposed Merger is not entered into on or prior to September 30, 2017 or such later date as agreed upon by the parties in writing, the obligations of the Noteholder to make future advances pursuant to this Note shall terminate with immediate effect."

As in other words, if there is no deal made by the end of September, DGLT is in major trouble. But the hurt would be much larger for insiders and management who own a heap of shares compared to us retail investors who bought up shares the few days leading up to the halt. Urban FT has also gone on public record practically salivating over DGLT's client base and business (not so much the business model itself which is what has led DGLT down this path to destruction).  So I believe that both sides are working hard to get a deal done. Ideally September 30th would be a hard deadline, but it wouldn't surprise me if talks continued beyond that. Just by looking at Urban FT's news page on its website tells you all you need to know about the company's mindset.

So what do I think will happen? The language in the 8-K has me leaning to a reverse takeover as my best guess. It makes sense as Urban FT has been trying to increase its public profile recently. A reverse merger by definition means that Urban FT interests would come away with the bulk of the shares. My experience has been that reverse takeover deals result between 50% to 90% of the newly created float going to the new owner. That would mean DGLT would have a minimum of 20 million shares and up to 100 million shares outstanding post-merger. However, the float itself would remain unchanged as Urban FT would own all of the newly formed shares and there would presumably be a lock-up period or some kind of disincentive to immediately dumping millions of shares.

Another article about the deal released today has Urban FT CEO Richard Steggall reiterating that the closing price of DGLT's stock of $1.05 represents a "fair market value". So a reverse takeover would likely value Urban FT around $1.05 for hypothetical "UFT" stock. There isn't a lot of information surrounding Urban FT available, but the company did complete a $3 million seed round at an undisclosed valuation in 2012 as well as two follow up rounds of undisclosed amounts.

Urban FT acquired Wipit in 2015 and iParse in 2017. Wipit is a mobile payments solution provider for the underbanked. It has an active partnership with Sprint (see website, as well read the fine print at the bottom of the page referencing Urban FT as the operator of this program) and has signed a deal with H&R Block back in 2012, but I haven't seen anything that suggests it's particularly active or lucrative. The iParse acquisition seems to have been mostly for its technology, allowing Urban FT to white label its mobile banking solution to all banks and credit unions, regardless of size. The article I am referencing from mid-July made note that the plug-in made possible by the iParse acquisition would be deployed in 60 days - or right around now as the DGLT deal looks to get done.

Richard Steggall and Urban FT's President Kasey Kaplan are the two faces of the company. They disseminate and promote Urban FT's activity in the FinTech space as well as opine on various trends in the industry. Both have active social media profiles. They have made missteps yapping about the DGLT offer too early and often which greatly impacted the stock price before it was halted on 8/16, but seem to have learned their lessons from the mistake and have acted more responsibly since then. Both of these men would make pretty good stewards for a publicly traded company, able to disclose Urban FT's business in a functional but not overly promotional way. This would serve well in, for instance, analyst conference calls.

What I am trying to get to is that on the surface, Urban FT looks to be at an ideal time to go public. It has enough interesting deals going on like the one with Sprint and this new iParse offering in addition to whatever synergies it may pick up from merging with DGLT. The management team appears capable. The FinTech space is hot. So no matter what valuation this proposed reverse takeover may entail, the stock has a significant chance of going higher as the market may love this deal. 

Short interest as of 8/31 was 845,643 which is actually less than what I originally guessed, but is still a high enough amount on a stock with 10 million shares outstanding and is currently halted pending some kind of deal. This is ripe for a short squeeze if/when it opens.


While my patience has been wearing thin, what I can say as a long is that I am much more confident about my position once it opens than what those 800,000+ shares short should be. Today's article mentioned the following about the possible timing of DGLT re-opening for trading:

"Once DGLT appoints new auditors and they complete an audit review of 2016 and 2017 earnings to date, Steggall anticipates that the stock will resume trading. He expects a new firm will be appointed later this week."

So perhaps if the new firm is hired by the end of this week and is immediately deployed to review the books, could we see the halt lifted as well as news of the M&A deal by the end of this month?



Thursday, 7 September 2017

Mission Ready Services: Bought Shares On $400 Million Deal With U.S. Military

Mission Ready Services (MRS) announced a distribution agreement to supply its products to a foreign military, with all signs pointing to that foreign military being the United States.

The Material Terms of the Agreement include:
  • Minimum Purchases (USD): Year 1 (2018), $50MM; Year 2 (2019), $50MM; Year 3 (2020), $100MM; Year 4 (2021), $100MM; Year 5 (2022), $100MM.
  • Advance Payments: Distributor agrees to pay Mission Ready (the “Manufacturer”) a down payment equal to forty percent (40%) of the purchase order amount within 10-days of submitting the purchase order.
  • Exclusivity: Manufacturer appoints Distributor, on an exclusive basis, as its sole distributor for the defined territory.
The total minimum guaranteed amount for this contract is $400 million over the next 5 years. The press release implies that the contract will start in 2018 but the material change report shows that the first $50 million could occur any time between now and the end of 2018. This is the largest deal I have ever seen relative to market cap in the Canadian junior world. While it's portrayed as something much more definite than an LOI, the caveat is that the anonymous distributor (possibly Federal Resources Supply Company, a distributor that MRS signed an agreement with in Q2 2017) isn't subject to a very strict punishment for not adhering to the minimum purchase volumes. Once the purchase order comes and the 40% down payment is sent to MRS, that's when we can be assured of the distributor's dedication to this deal.

With that being said, the risk-to-reward trade off from this deal is way out of whack. At 20 cents, the fully diluted market cap (~127M shares) is $25 million CAD. As soon as the stock opened yesterday at 11:30 I bought 200,000 shares with the intent to ride it for a short period of time since I thought it would take off. Instead the stock pulled back to 16 cents which allowed me to load up, really load up. That includes clearing out my U.S. account (well not DGLT) and using credit card debt. Not something that I wanted to do but when I was given this opportunity I took it. The pullback could be from profit takers as well as a significant amount of warrants at the 15 cent level. I get it. I was lambasted for selling a few hundred thousand of my six million shares/warrants of PKK when it hit 20 cents before buying that all back and then some as it seeped back down. So I won't fault others for taking huge profits. If you own a stock that is 10% of your portfolio and it suddenly triples, it has grown to become 25% of your portfolio. Selling parts of your holdings isn't being a weak hand, it's showing prudent portfolio management. The 30M+ volume on the sell side allowed me to become a participant in the 30M+ of the volume on the buy side relatively easily and at good prices. I thank the sellers.

I'd like to share a relevant link:

https://www.defense.gov/News/Contracts/

This is the U.S. Department of Defense contract announcement page. I have skimmed through the contract announcements over the past couple of days and haven't seen anything that could match the terms of the contract as announced by MRS. It's tricky though, as the contract name could be awarded to the anonymous distributor and it will likely be for more than $400M as that is only the cut to MRS as the role of manufacturer.  The announcement might still be to come. So investors should keep their eyes peeled and also have a look at the contract announcements over the past several days. The search function on the site is completely useless. So several more pairs of eyes might pick up something that I missed. It also means that I won't have to scour the website  - delegation of tasks to other shareholders with a large stake in this stock.

 I'm certainly not suggesting that the contract is bogus. I wouldn't load up if I thought it was, plus with the day long halt the Venture Exchange likely went through this deal quite carefully. The company has undertaken steps to put all its resources into fulfilling this deal, namely reneging on the Wild Things acquisition. But if this contract does show up on the DoD website that would be a huge boost to its credibility and basically assure us that the minimum threshold will be met. After all, if the distributor can sign a deal for $400 million plus markup with the U.S. Government, why wouldn't they fulfill their duty to MRS? That would be throwing away middle-man profits. MRS is the one sacked with the tough job of actually producing the goods.

Speaking of tough jobs, one of the prime causes for the stock not immediately spiking over 50 cents is likely the market's worry that MRS is going to have to finance through equity to garner some cash to fulfill its end of the deal. I don't share this view, particularly by reading this paragraph in the release:

"MediaTech Capital Partner’s Porter Bibb, who recently partnered with Mission Ready (see Company’s news release dated August 2, 2017), states, “Mission Ready’s impressive new management team has delivered on its promise to put Mission Ready on a fast track to rapid growth and significant profitability as a market leader in the burgeoning military and public safety tactical equipment sector.” MediaTech will assist the Company with obtaining bridge loan capital for raw materials, as required, and will help to facilitate the rapid expansion of the Company’s manufacturing and sales divisions."

It explicitly states that MediaTech and MRS will seek to obtain bridge loan financing. It makes sense to go with PO financing rather than equity with the new stage the company is about to enter as a major manufacturer. If equity financing is needed at a large scale (small financing for working capital requirements is acceptable) then the company and its capital partner completely dropped the ball on this one. Military spending is about as safe of an industry as you can be in with the current political climate in the Unites States. Interest rates are still very low in historical terms and the stock market is high. There should be firms lining up to finance this deal, seeking some alpha return on an investment that should result in an 8-12% coupon for a bridge loan.

Valuation

How much is MRS worth right now?  Not the easiest question to answer at this early stage but I think most people will answer "far higher than a $25 million market cap". The company hasn't given any EBITDA guidance on this deal yet so I think the most straightforward method to use is a revenue multiplier. Axon Enterprise, Inc. (AAXN), formerly Taser, is the first company that I can think of that manufacturers equipment for the law enforcement and defense industry. It has a Price/Sales ratio of 3.7x.

If we were to apply that 3.7x revenue multiple to the $50 million in revenue guaranteed by that contract in 2018, that would be a $185 million valuation or about $1.45 per fully diluted share US, which translates to to about $1.80 CAD. Now obviously there are a couple of issues with comparing AAXN's already existing revenue to MRS' supposed future revenue stream:
  • AAXN's revenue is multiple is based on past, audited results. The MRS contract is not yet 100% guaranteed.
  • AAXN is profitable at its current level of revenue. We don't know the gross margins on the MRS contract nor if this will be enough to get the company to profitability.
  • AAXN has an existing manufacturing process that can handle large volumes. MRS has yet to prove that it can do this (though it looks like the company brought in new CEO Jeff Schwartz specifically to tackle this issue).
There are also a couple of advantages:
  • We know that the revenue stream on this deal will double by 2021. AAXN will be challenged to double revenue by then.
  • This is just one contract and the $50 million is referred to as a minimum commitment. The revenue stream from this contract will be added to the existing marginal revenue stream as well as any other contracts signed in the near future. Revenue could be substantially higher than $50 million in 2018.
Rather than saying that MRS is definitely worth X price, I'll look at it from the perspective of how big of a discount the market is valuing MRS relative to AAXN and where I think it should be. If $1.80 is the price MRS is assuming all goes well with the contract, the manufacturing and the financial audit between now and 18 months from now, $0.20 means that the market is giving an 89% discount. That means it is giving MRS an 11% chance of success (or say, a 22% chance of getting half way there). I personally think that's way too low.

What's a reasonable target price in my opinion? Well, $0.50 is a nice round number that has a realistic shot based on MRS' current breakout and that would imply about a 28% chance of success. I think if everyone looks at it from this perspective, they'll figure out a comfortable level in which to take profits. That doesn't mean I would dump all my shares at exactly 50 cents nor would I recommend anyone else do that.

Offloading small lots from 25 to 75 cents would result in the same 50 cent average sell price and provide an opportunity to trade spikes and dips. You can never accurately predict when to sell or what will happen. Just look at DGLT as an example. Had I not starting selling in lots between $0.75 and $1.00 I'd be stuck with 100% of my money in a stock that has been halted for three weeks, even if I am technically up over 300%. At least in that case I recovered my original investment and then some and whatever ends up happening to that stock is gravy.

Final Note

Not only do I think MRS will move up, I think for the health of the Venture Exchange, it HAS to move up. If we can't make money trading a $25 million CAD market cap stock that has just signed a $400 million US contract to provide protective gear to the U.S. military, what chance do we have to make money on PKK, FGD, PEEK or any other stock not being chased by weed dreamers? This contract is the Holy Grail for junior investors. There are stocks on the NASDAQ with 5 to 10 times the market cap that would double if they announced a $400 million contract with the United States military. MRS should make all of us good money. If it doesn't, this market is completely broken.




Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Seven Stocks I'm Watching Closely for the Rest of 2017

As I have been in summer mode, I haven't written much about the stocks in my portfolio lately. Here is an update on seven stocks that I am watching closely for the rest of 2017.

First Global Data (FGD)

I'm surprised at the extreme pullback, but I have taken the opportunity to buy more shares. I hold more FGD shares now than ever before. However, thanks to the tank in the stock price, FGD has slipped to the third largest holding in my portfolio. Despite the negative move, I'm not too upset about it. If FGD was doing poorly I would be but I know that business is going very well.

FGD is the one stock I tell people I know to buy, even those who are unfamiliar with the stock market or who only buy very conservative stocks. Why? For two reasons:

1. FGD has been consistently profitable since Q1 2016. Four of the past five quarters showed positive net income while Q4 2016 only showed a loss because of the stock compensation expense booked in that quarter. The threat of bankruptcy is as about as minimal as it can be for a junior stock and while FGD seems to be battling dilution issues right now, those issues will be in the rear view mirror soon enough. It is extremely unlikely that the company will need to finance to maintain operations in the future, yet possesses a very high speculative upside upon continued traction of the business. I strongly believe that FGD will be a $5.00 stock soon enough, which is more than a 15x upside from current prices. I can see a strategic investment being a possible dilutive event in the future, but that would only be a net positive for existing shareholders.

2. There is plenty of verifiable third party evidence that suggests that business is booming:
  • The Android stats for VPayQwik in the Google Play store showed that the app surpassed 100,000 downloads in January and 500,000 downloads in June.
  • The CEO of Vijaya Bank (FGD's operating partner for VPayQwik) stated that he wants to see more than a million users on this app.
  • The Alexa web traffic stats for firstglobalmoney.com have been on a consistent uptrend. It entered into the top million rank in September 2016 and top 400,000 in June. It sits around 370,000 now after hitting as high as 350,000 at the end of July.
  • The partnership with LianLian to bring remittance services to WeChat is already live. Website link. Note the "Powered by First Global Money Inc." message on the service's interface.
Check my previous articles for links and analysis that back up these points. Points one and three show strong growth in usage of the company's existing payments services which has so far been highly correlated to increased revenues in each quarter since Q3 2016. The WeChat service will not likely impact Q2 but we may see material revenue from the deal as early as Q3 based on the progress made early in the quarter.


Peak Positioning Technologies (PKK)

Like FGD, I have also been buying PKK shares and hold more shares now than ever before. Though for this one I can understand why there might have been such a pullback. The company will not be making original financial projections made for 2017, which may have turned off some investors as Q1 looked weak and I am expecting much the same for Q2. However, rather than this being due to a screw up, this delay in revenue is largely due to the opportunity to pivot into the much higher margin Chinese B2B lending space through Cubeler, ASDS and ASFC. Rather than accepting a small margin on large amounts of revenue-generating transactions processed through Gold River, PKK has the opportunity to increase the margin on these transactions by offering lending and other financial services to its customers. Three press releases in August show that the company has achieved major milestones in getting to this point. I expect marginal revenue from these initiatives in Q3 with a ramp-up in Q4.

Another issue that could be negatively impacting the stock is the discount-to-market financing deal that PKK signed with GEM. Many people were suspicious that GEM was responsible for the recent tank. That may not have been the case, but the July progress report showed that PKK financed through GEM with the investment firm getting 3.3 million shares at an average of a little over 6 cents.

I have stated my concerns to PKK's CEO about GEM, and this was his response:



I was quite encouraged to know that he is aware of the issues surrounding GEM and is using this as a test case. I look forward to hearing more business developments that will encourage the stock price to return and surpass the 52-week highs made a couple of months ago, hopefully before the year is up. Even at 6 cents PKK is still my largest holding, reflecting the large amount of shares I own and the even more severe pullback on FGD. However, the next stock could take over as my largest holding if it continues towards new 52-week highs.


Selectcore (SCG)

I was a reluctant buyer of SCG shares recently. Having seen what happened to FGD since the free trading of shares, I was worried about the impact of SCG's private placement coming due, particularly since the stock price has been so strong since the addition of a Blockchain/Cryptocurrency Strategist to the Advisory Board. So far, so good, as Monday didn't generate much selling. However, there could be a risk of weakness in the short term if anyone does decide to sell their shares. If there is not, I will take that as a very good sign and a precursor to more buying as potential buyers see that sellers aren't blinking and will blink first. Thanks to FGD tanking and SCG remaining near 52-week highs, it's now the second largest holding in my portfolio.

I was at the AGM where CEO Mohammad Abuleil and new Chairman (and CEO of FGD) Andre Itwaru explained the current state of the company and plans for the near future. In addition to leveraging the JV with FGD and existing government relationships, SCG is planning to dive in head-first to several leading-edge fintech solutions. This includes a peer-to-peer lending and microfinancing (getting into the GoFundMe type of space) and possibly creating its own cryptocurrency. While the creation of the currency certainly sounds intriguing, that sounds like something that is far down the road and will have a lot of hurdles to overcome. I'm more interested in the near-term plans.

The initiative that I found to be more realistic, achievable and profitable in the short term (possibly before the end of 2017) is the integration of a cryptocurrency solution into SCG's existing point-of-sale platform. Basically, SCG wants to sell Bitcoin and similar kinds of online currencies the same way that it used to sell prepaid phone cards. I asked at the AGM if SCG plans to get into the cryptocurrency dealer space - it does not. Which is what I prefer because I don't want SCG getting caught up with the volatile nature of these things.

SCG once achieved $100 million in annual revenue selling prepaid cards. So the company doesn't have an issue with reach. The problem was that this business was extremely low margin and became obsolete as the carriers improved their web services where customers could easily top-up their balances online. If a cryptocurrency sales solution catches on, it could be a cash cow for years, similar to how businesses like Thomas Cook have made money dealing in physical foreign currencies at kiosks. This is still in the concept phase but I am willing to wait to see how much progress can be made on this in 2017.

Like FGD and PKK, SCG's financials are due in two weeks. The income statement has been up and down since 2016, but still greatly improved over previous years. I looks forward to seeing Q2 2017. The balance sheet should also look the best it has in years.


Assure Holdings (IOM)

I recently sold all of my shares in IOM above $3.00 to purchase more of the three aforementioned stocks. This quick triple has saved my portfolio this summer and allowed me to redeploy more cash into the other stocks as well as the final two on this list. This was slightly below my planned $4.00 target but considering the tank in FGD and PKK I decided to sell a little bit lower and looks like I timed it well as the stock has pulled back to $2.50. This is a price that I would seriously consider buying back in if not for the fact that FGD and PKK are still outstandingly low.

Why did I sell my IOM shares when the company had such a strong Q1 and is trading at an annualized P/E ratio of well less than 10? Keep in mind a couple of the risk factors I outlined in my Seeking Alpha article. First, the stock has moved a lot so insiders or owners of the old shell that existed prior to the RTO might be encouraged to take their profits. Second, the accounts receivable balance is high and has been growing which is always a concern when it comes to businesses that bill Medicaid and the insurance companies in the U.S. Q1 showed positive operating cash flow so the company is collecting on at least part of its invoices. I'll continue to monitor the A/R balance closely when reviewing Q2 and beyond should I decide to buy back in.


Peeks Social (PEEK)

As I stated a few weeks ago, I sold out of my position in PEEK to buy FGD and PKK. I suppose it worked out since PEEK has dropped from the $0.80's to the $0.50's while FGD has dropped from $0.40 to $0.29 and PKK has stayed flat at 6 cents. I still have no plans to buy back in at this moment, but continue to follow the situation.

Recall my article from last October outlining the risks and opportunities that I see in PEEK. I guess the first elephant in the room that I have to acknowledge is that leveraging the old Keek user base wasn't nearly as lucrative as I had hoped. So Mark Itwaru is trying to find other ways to grow the user base to scale. Marketing expense was $1 million in Q1. Assuming the 30/70 split between PEEK and Personas applies to marketing costs as well, that means Peeks Social spent $3 million in advertising for the quarter. There are no details around the marketing expense, so I can only guess at the split between the Caribana sponsorship and what might be paid as an upfront signing bonus to celebrities like Scott Disick.

Maybe the strategic spending Mark is doing will be successful in bringing users onto the Peeks platform and encouraging revenue growth. However, having been burned by this business model before with other investments, I'll continue to sit on the sidelines until I see this strategy gaining traction or the stock becomes too irresistibly cheap to pass up a buying opportunity. My opinion on this is that YouTube helped to make Justin Bieber much more than Justin Bieber ever made YouTube. The Peeks platform is a great opportunity for people to get noticed and earn an income. In my opinion, Peeks needs to find its own stars to make rather than try to recruit existing stars to the platform (except in the case where the offer box is used for e-commerce initiatives).

With that being said, I noticed that the Mayor of Toronto John Tory gave a shout out to Peeks' Twitter account during the Carnival, and it has 230,000 followers. Clearly there is some boost in the Peeks brand name from this sponsorship deal. The next challenge is converting those followers into Peeks users who create content and/or tip others for their content.

There were several large investors in PEEK and even employees of the company present at the SCG AGM. That just goes to show you how incredibly stupid it is to try to gain traction in one of these stocks (PEEK, FGD, SCG) by trashing another. I firmly believe that the Itwaru brothers will help each other out. 


Lightning Ventures (LVI) and MGX Minerals (XMG)

Both of these companies are new to me and are in the oil/mineral extraction and technology space. I've known some of these "water into wine" type of companies before and they generally don't work out. However, trusted associates of mine who are shareholders and close to the management teams are quite bullish on each company. I expect to be talking with management along with writing more detailed reports on both of these stocks and in the case of XMG I have already once spoken with management.

Both companies have the typical risk associated with pre-revenue businesses that are trying to showcase new technology - financing/dilution/insolvency risks before things get off the ground and the risk that someone comes along and builds a better mousetrap if things do get off the ground. But for now I am fairly confident that both companies have a reasonable chance to become revenue-generating in 2017 along with signing (more) contracts with oil and gas players. At least confident enough to make both of these picks public. I'll give them both to the end of the year before re-evaluating my investment. For now I am slowly adding to my position while they are in a quiet period.

I own several other small positions, many of them I have already disclosed in other write ups. I'm also buying and selling other stocks to pass the time, but these seven are the ones I am watching the closest for the rest of 2017.