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Mark Papa, the CEO of Centennial Resource Development Corp (CDEV) is known as the “Godfather” of shale oil.

Following the recent release of its Q4 2018 earnings report the share price of the Godfather’s company was taken out to the woodshed.

The company missed analyst expectations… BIG time… and the stock immediately dropped 25%. OUCH.

But in his Q4 earnings call with analysts, the “Godfather” certainly wasn’t apologising to anyone.

Instead Papa pointed his finger in the other direction – at the analysts whom he says were incompetent in building their estimates.

“…if that doesn’t comport with Wall Street’s calculation of what they thought production might be, that’s just not our problem, frankly.”

Papa doesn’t seem to care about not measuring up to analyst expectations. I wonder if his shareholders who have seen the share price more than cut in half have a different view?

Much worse for Papa and his shareholder however….

I believe that the challenges for Papa, CDEV and every other independent Permian producer are only going to get worse from here. (Just FYI, there really is only one Permian producer worth owning, and it’s in the OGIB portfolio right now and it’s making us money!)

I Tried To Warn You That These Kids Were Going To Be Troublemakers!

The hot button topic that caused analysts to overestimate what Permian producers like CDEV are capable of is parent – child wells.

In the horizontal oil and gas business, the first well that is drilled on a piece of land or location is considered a parent well.  These wells are drilled into the best location and have the entire oil or gas reservoir all to themselves.

The drilling that comes later that drills up the rest of the field, called infill drilling, is referred to as the child wells.  As you would expect, the parent wells are more profitable than the child wells. Child wells often have less pressure from the reservoir and sometimes “communicate”, or overlap their drainage areas with the parent wells.

And all that means this: the best Permian wells have already been drilled for many (most?) oil producers. Producers across the Permian are finishing up with the parents and moving onto the children.

I first warned about this looming problem last September and it has now clearly come back to bite CDEV shareholders and all Permian operators.

The chart below is from a study (SPE 194310) completed by Schlumberger.  The chart adjusts Midland Basin wells for lateral length and pounds of sand per foot to make them comparable by year.

This is an “apples vs apples” view of how Permian wells perform by year they are drilled.

What the study shows is that while IP rates have gone up significantly over the past seven years as the wells got longer and amount of sand used increased… the older wells produce more oil, for less money.

The Permian wells aren’t getting better every year… they are actually getting worse.

Papa himself explained the problem in the recent Q4 call as follows:

“The issue for the entire Permian Basin relates to parent-child wells. Every year, every company is drilling a higher percentage of child wells and those wells are simply not as powerful as the parent wells.”

Wall Street analysts have not been factoring in the impact of producers like CDEV moving to drilling child wells. That is why the analyst expectations for CDEV were far too high for Q4 and why the company was unable to meet them.

For shareholders of a company like CDEV – which has gone from $20 at the start of 2017 to under $9 today – the idea that the best wells have now been drilled can’t be terribly comforting.

Papa has been open about this parent-child well issue for a while now. His take on the issue is – this is the reason that Permian production growth is going to hit the brakes hard. He has gone as far as to say that rapidly slowing Permian production growth is going to leave the world facing an oil supply shortfall, and lift oil prices.

His message is that independent producer like CDEV are going to thrive because oil prices are going up as Permian production growth halts.

He is wrong.

Step Aside Children – The Adults Are Ready To Takeover Now

The parent-child well issue got a lot of attention following CDEV’s share price shellacking.

I think the parent-child well issue is a tempest in a tea-pot.

The real Permian parent – child issue is not about wells now.  The bigger parent-child issue in the Permian is actually about the majors (parents) versus the independents (children).

What it boils down to is that the parents have arrived on the scene and the children are about to get spanked.

The talking point for months from Papa has been that the parent-child well issue is going to slow Permian production and do great things for the price of WTI.

The plans that Chevron (CVX) and Exxon (XOM) just rolled out this week tell a very different story. These two companies alone will assure that Permian production growth is slowing down no time soon. Not for years to come.

Chevron and Exxon are playing a different game than the independents. The majors don’t need to worry about where the cash is going to come from to drill. They don’t even care what the price of oil is.

These companies are about to spend tens of billions to drill the Permian into proverbial Swiss chees – no matter how many parents or daughters get drilled. Exxon this week was assuring the world that at $35 WTI they would still be thrilled to drill the “you know what” out of the Permian

Within a couple of hours of each other on Tuesday of this week these two energy behemoths revealed their plan for the Permian. Combined we can expect just these two companies to be producing almost 2 million barrels per day out of the Permian.

Chevron is planning for 900,000 barrels per day by 2023 and Exxon is looking to hit 1 million barrels per day by 2024.

The slide below is from Exxon’s March 6, 2019 investor day presentation. The intended production ramp up isn’t subtle.

One year ago Exxon was planning to take combined Permian and Bakken presentation to 650,000 boe/day by the end of 2025. Now that number is 1.3 million boe/day by 2025 with almost all of the growth coming from the Permian.

Exxon just told us that the company has doubled its shale growth intentions – and we are supposed to believe Papa’s view that Permian production growth is going to grind to a halt? NOT A CHANCE… the scale of what is about to happen with just these two majors will override all Papa’s Permian production concerns for a few years. It makes it hard to be bullish on WTI pricing (even with all the increased US export capacity).

Chevron’s most recent presentation looks exactly the same. It shows Permian growth going from very little today and heading straight up.

The new Chevron Permian target of 900,000 boe/day by 2024 is a 40 percent increase from the company’s stated intentions from a year ago.

Together Exxon and Chevron alone are going to grow their Permian production by close to 1.5 million boe/day within 5 years. The entire Permian current produces roughly 4 million boe/day.

Welcome to the big boy game… it is the long-established way that the oil patch works. Wildcatters and small explorers take the risks and prove up a play, then the majors move in and take over from there.

The independents rushed into the Permian and moved quickly to drive production up fast. The majors meanwhile sat back and took their time to study what was going on not with a focus on fast… but on doing things well.

There is no silver lining here for Papa, CDEV or the other Permian independents. They haven’t generated any wealth for shareholders as of today and the road gets much hard from here.

I see the silver lining is in the Midstreamers – the companies who get paid to move all that oil and gas from well to refinery. After doing A LOT of research, I’ve bought what I think is the best stock to profit from all this increased Permian production.

I have two stocks to show you – one is best Permian upstream stock to own, and one is the best midstream.  If you want to know the one Permian producer, and the one Permian midstreamer that can best take advantage of what’s happening in Permian, click on the link below to subscribe:

Click here for monthly access a month (no refunds)
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Keith Schaefer
Publisher, Oil and Gas Investments Bulletin



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Microsoft founder Bill Gates is a man on a mission – he has also founded a billion dollar energy fund with sole purpose of fighting climate change.

Gates is definitely not pro-hydrocarbons.  But he is a realist.

And he’s not optimistic about wind and solar renewable energy as a solution to climate change.

This is obviously a very, very smart man and he is very much on board with the idea that climate change is a dire problem for the world.
Yet Gates has recently offered a harsh reality check on the current state of renewable energy if there ever was one.

As of today Gates believes that realistically solar and wind are still in need of an order of magnitude improvement from where the technologies currently are for them to be a reliable source of power.

In fact, I’ll show you later in this story how the use of renewables is actually increasing the amount of natural gas used – as back up for all that unreliable but politically correct solar and wind based power!

Gates’ full comments on renewables (36 minutes long) are at this link.

Per Gates – “The Concept of Clean Energy Has Screwed Up People’s Minds”

Pay special attention when Gates is asked a question at the 8:45 mark.

It isn’t often you get to see a man with $100 billion get agitated.

Gates is asked if he’s optimistic about the cost of wind, solar and battery storage coming down really extremely fast, and if renewables will soon be ready to assume the mantle of Primary Power Provider?

This question clearly annoys Gates and he quickly says in an exasperated state… “That is so disappointing.

Gates says putting a carbon tax on businesses will not mean that renewable technologies will quickly improve.

Gates views this as ridiculous. His view is that there is no way that we can rely on wind and solar if those power sources aren’t even close to being reliable enough to do the job.  Even financial incentives in the power sector don’t magically create technology miracles.

And if you listen to Gates you don’t get the impression that wind and solar are ever going to be ready to do the job fully because (he says) battery storage capabilities are so woefully inadequate. (But he’s never met CellCube! CUBE-CSE)

Gates uses terms like “Monster Miracle” and “Order of Magnitude Improvement” for renewables to supplant hydrocarbons.

Unreliable Renewables Need A Backup – That Backup Is Natural Gas

Everyone knows the problem with wind and solar power is that they are intermittent and unreliable. If the sun don’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow… you are out of luck.

Renewables can’t carry the ball alone. They need a backup… a pinch-hitter to come in and do the heavy lifting at crunch time.

That pinch-hitter is natural gas.

The US government’s EIA just detailed that natural gas powered reciprocating internal combustion engines (that’s a mouthful!) are getting a lot more popular. That’s because utility operators that use renewables as part of their power generation are steadily turning to this type of backup generator.

Normally these reciprocating engines are used only for emergencies. Now they are being used on a regular basis to step in when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing.

Advancements in engine technology and scale is allowing utilities to increase the role of these reciprocating engines. Having US natural gas prices cheaper than dirt also helps.

Before 2010 reciprocating engines typically had no more than 9 MW in capacity. In recent years, larger units that range from 16 MW to 19 MW have been installed throughout the United States.

As you would expect – power plants with large reciprocating engines are often located in states with significant renewable resources and in particular wind generation.

Texas, which has the most wind electricity generation capacity in the country has 910 MW of natural gas-driven reciprocating engines. That is 20% of the national total (4,642 MW).

Kansas (564 MW) and California (398 MW) also with large amounts of renewable generation have the next highest capacities of reciprocating engines.

These utilities can’t rely solely on renewables and natural gas is becoming the “go-to” backup.

How Do Renewables Become Capable Of Taking The Starring Role?

Renewables may work at some point, but the business model and the technology is not there right now to make them even close to being economic.

Most environmentalists are ready to simply assume that the order of magnitude change in technology will happen quickly… that is a giant leap based on nothing more than hope.

To a rational mind like Bill Gates, that is a reckless assumption to make.

Gates has actually said that the environmentalists who are convincing the world to believe that wind and solar alone are going be the solution to climate change are more dangerous than the people who deny that climate change even exists.

That probably doesn’t win Gates many friends amongst environmentalists, but he isn’t in this to win friends… he is looking for a solution.

So how do you think renewables can play the most efficient role in North American power markets. Send me your thoughts on what could be done now to include renewables better in our power mix, or even make them the star of this show? Send me an email at editor@oilandgas-investments.com and we will republish a mix of the best suggestions.

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To me, investor sentiment the oil market changed last week – to the bullish.

For the last few months, oil has been caught between two opposing forces – (very) fast rising US production vs. Saudi cutbacks.

When the Saudis announced late last week that March loadings would average 9.8 million bopd – under 10 million, and well under what their OPEC cut quota is, the Market finally stood up and listened to what the Saudis have been screaming for weeks: they are willing to do whatever it takes to keep prices high.

Hear my thoughts, straight from deep within the OGIB Mission Control:

For the Saudis to do whatever it takes – it takes a lot, as the US has every bearish stat you can think of:

  1. More accurate monthly stats are showing the weekly numbers are UNDER-estimating US production by some 300K bopd… so that 11.9 is really 12.2 million.
  2. Rig counts are not falling in any meaningful way (they are falling but just…)
  3. US producer budgets are not falling in any meaningful way (they are falling but just…)
  4. DUCs at record 4000+

The only bullish thing I see in the US is that Permian gas prices (WAHA) have gone negative a few days and sit around 30 cents/mcf now. This means realized pricing in the Permian should be lower than people think… and at some point, should have an impact (lower) on Permian production… whenever the Market chooses to pay attention to that.

Global demand increases continue to be in the 1.2-1.5 M bopd range, so this potential move in oil price is more supply driven than demand – and that makes this move, IMHO, more volatile.
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Shareholders of First Cobalt – FCC-TSXv/FTSSF-OTCQB are like the Fram Filter man – they can get paid now, or they can get paid later.

I think they could get paid now because FCC owns the only cobalt refinery in the world that’s idle – outside of China, up in the small town of – where else – Cobalt Ontario.

It’s permitted, and has been independently appraised as being worth USD $80 million – which would be $104 million in our discounted Canadian dollars. Compare that to the company’s market cap of CAD$43 million.

CEO Trent Mell believes that for a $30 million investment… this refinery can be quickly cranking out $25 million in cash flow at a USD $30/lb cobalt price – that’s just over a one year payback.

Even at current prices that are bouncing around $20/lb (and viewed as unsustainable) the payback on getting this refinery up and running is just two years… a no-brainer kind of return.

I tell all my OGIB subscribers – juniors in oil and gas must have one year payback on their assets for them to grow within cash flow. Oil wells decline quickly. But this refinery will keep on chugging out huge profits year after year with no decline.

USD $30 per pound is the consensus analyst view for medium term cobalt pricing although some analysts see quite a bit higher.

A lot of mining projects go into production with just 15, 20% IRR. This refinery is going to have like 100% IRR – 50% in the worst case.

So while the numbers work great, the strategic value of

  1. having a permitted asset inside North America
  2. for a commodity dominated by China and the DRC – Democratic Republic of the Congo (can you say “supply risk”?)
  3. in an industry (Electric Vehicles) that’s growing around the world very quickly

adds an incredible amount of intangible value the Market isn’t pricing in.

Investors aren’t recognizing this, but the American government is. They put out a personal invitation for CEO Trent Mell to visit the White House in Washington D.C. to help them better understand what the US could do to secure a domestic supply of cobalt – as they have a growing deposit in Idaho.

That’s what I mean by shareholders getting paid later. Getting the refinery into production ASAP would pay shareholders now – getting the Idaho asset developed & ready for mining – with the strong backing of the US government – means they get paid later.

The White House Is Paying Attention – Even If Investors Aren’t

The US government is clearly concerned about domestic supply of critical minerals – including cobalt. So when Mell told me he took a trip to the White House for a conversation with the President’s national security advisers – I wanted to speak with him right away.

It isn’t every day that I get to speak with someone who has done that!

The obvious question is why is it that the White House is interested in a $50 million company like First Cobalt?

Well, it is for the same reason that Simon Moores of Benchmark Mineral Intelligence appeared before the US Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources last week – the US Government is quickly figuring out that the country is heading towards a major problem.

That problem – as described by Moores to the Senate Committee last week – is:

“We are in the midst of a global battery arms race in which the US is presently a bystander.”

The US is woefully behind in getting ready for the future of transportation – Electric Vehicles.

During his testimony Moores revealed that he is now tracking 70 lithium ion battery megafactories under construction across four continents. Forty-six of those are based in China with only five now planned for the US.

When Moores last provided testimony to the Senate in October 2017 the global total was at 17 – so it has increased fourfold in 15 months globally while nothing has happened in North America.

Why is this a big problem?

Because right now it looks more and more like the 21st century will belong to lithium ion batteries. The power in the auto and energy storage industries is going to belong to those who control both the raw lithium ion battery materials and the manufacturing know how.

China is miles ahead in securing the supply of lithium, cobalt, nickel and manganese to produce lithium ion batteries. As of today the US has a minor to non-existent role in most of the key lithium ion battery raw materials and only has a presence in lithium ion battery manufacturing via Tesla and its Gigafactory.

The U.S Government is recognizing that country is almost comically behind in this critical race… and that this has to change and it has to change fast.

A Domestic Source Of Cobalt Is Mission Critical

Cobalt is a critical safety component of the lithium ion battery. The US currently has virtually no control over the entire cobalt supply chain.

In his presentation to the Senate Committee Mr. Moores said that cobalt… “is the highest risk lithium ion battery raw material, both from a supply structure perspective and a geopolitical one.”

Mining of cobalt is dominated by the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)… YIKES!!

Refining of cobalt is currently dominated by China which is increasingly looking like an enemy of the US.

When it comes to cobalt the US currently has nothing… NOTHING!

The scorecard is…

Cobalt supply… Zero.

Cobalt refining capacity… ZERO.

China has locked down the supply from the DRC and has developed the refining capacity of its own.

Developing domestic cobalt supply and refining capacity is nothing less than a national security issue for the United States… hence the reason that First Cobalt’s CEO Mell found himself at the White House speaking to the President’s National Security Advisors.

Mell told me that during his visit at the White House he started to walk the President’s advisors through the global supply and demand situation for cobalt specifically but was cut-off with…

“Look. We understand that. What do you have in America?”

The Government seems to now see the problem. The good news is that the US has an opportunity to develop its own domestic supply of cobalt. It just needs to get moving to do it.

The Idaho-cobalt belt is globally known as being a cobalt rich jurisdiction and presents one of the few opportunities for US cobalt supply security.

You Will Excuse My Shorter Term Thinking In This Case

It was most certainly First Cobalt’s important Iron Creek cobalt project in Idaho that had CEO Mell visiting the White House. That huge asset will definitely be First Cobalt’s long term driver.

But that’s where FCC shareholders get paid later.

Where they likely get paid now is First Cobalt’s $100 million Ontario refinery that has my short term interest… both for the fact that it is hugely mispriced in the market today but also for the economics it offers.

First Cobalt last reported $11 million of cash in the bank and no debt so they can get this refinery producing cash flow with a reasonable debt financing.

Or… somebody smart figures out that this unique asset is selling at a third of replacement value in the market and takes this company over before the market corrects its absurd valuation mistake.

Sources:

  1. https://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/first-cobalt-initiates-study-on-refinery-restart-requirements-680227893.html
  2. https://www.energy.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/files/serve?File_id=9BAC3577-C7A4-4D6D-A5AA-33ACDB97C233

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Keith Schaefer
Publisher, Oil and Gas Investments Bulletin



[[T_F]]Data Leak Prevention – Data Security Solutions – Information Theft Protection, Detection and Prevention Software Productstracefusion_signature=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[[T_F]]
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LITHIUM’S HUGE NEW SUPPLY SOURCE

A huge new lithium source will get commercialized this year.  It’s so big, and so rich, I expect it to change the economics of this global industry.  It’s owed by a small company–Standard Lithium.

They have partnered with German giant Lanxess, who operates 3 bromine plants in southern Arkansas. The same massive source of bromine–they have been producing for 50 years and will produce for another 150 years–is called The Smackover Formation.  It’s also very rich in lithium.

Standard Lithium not only has a simple, low-cost method to extract lithium from Smackover brine.  I think they will be able to supply the majority of North American lithium needs within a few short years–they have a partner who will supply construction financing (Lanxess) and no permits are required to get into production–all the buildings will installed on Lanxess current facilities.   It’s a global game changer for the EV (Electric Vehicle) market.

CEO Robert Mintak and COO Andy Robinson explain how they solved the Smackover lithium puzzle so quickly and cheaply in the video below.  This will take you to my YouTube channel–please subscribe to it for this and future management interviews and stock picks.

This small cap stock has a disruptive technology in fast growing market segment, and a big partner to commercialize it quickly.  Please watch–as their pilot plants gets built this year I expect the Market to start pricing in the huge cash flows that await Standard Lithium in the years to come.

To subscribe to my Oil and Gas Investments Bulletin independent research service, click HERE:

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Keith Schaefer
Publisher, Oil and Gas Investments Bulletin



[[T_F]]Data Leak Prevention – Data Security Solutions – Information Theft Protection, Detection and Prevention Software Productstracefusion_signature=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[[T_F]]
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Thunderbird Entertainment (TBRD:TSXv/THBRF-PINK) and their shareholders are laughing all the way to the bank as streamers, big studios and traditional networks pay big bucks for content.

Every big business in any kind of media has – or is launching – a subscription video service. That is creating an epic supply/demand imbalance.

These companies are spending big money on content – and will for years to come – tens of billions each year. It’s the biggest tailwind I see for any sector anywhere in the Markets.

The Biggest Mistake that the new streaming companies can make: is not having enough content. Paying too much for that content is not the concern. The billions these companies are pouring into streaming services is wasted if they don’t get subscribers fast – they need high quality content.

Netflix spent $12-13B in 2018, Amazon $5B, Hulu $2.5B, Apple $1B… next year all of those budgets are going up.

Netflix alone is expected to spend $18 billion and are especially desperate with Disney yanking its content off of Netflix to build their own streaming service.

The timing for Thunderbird Entertainment could not be better–nor could the timing for buying shares in the company.

That’s why I got long! Because while investors don’t know about it….

Everybody in the industry is chasing T-Bird’s creative team in this race to build paying subscriber bases. You can’t make $5 billion at the flip of a switch like Netflix when they jumped rates by $3/month – without a lot of subscribers!

And you need high quality content to do that!

All this frantic action is showing up in T-Bird’s financials – look at these EBITDA numbers for the last three years:

2016 – $2.2 million

2017 – $5.1 million

2018 – $10.1 million

AND… they have a potential $170 million backlog on shows for next year – much of it with The Big Boys – what’s called the OTT – Over The Top content majors like Netflix.

EBITDA will keep growing with that kind of backlog. And I get to buy all that growth at half price, as their valuation is half their peer group. That’s mostly because T-Bird only listed in November 2018, it really isn’t on anyone’s radar screens yet.

I want everyone to understand the leverage here. This industry is now GLOBAL. Netflix has 80 million international subscribers. If you get a hit show, EVERYBODY in the world will have a chance to see it now. Asia, Europe, Australia, South America… you can get BIG in a hurry here and make HUGE money.

And where that really pays off is in animation. If you create a cartoon character the kids love, you could have another Paw Patrol, a Canadian-made animation that brings in as much as $300 million in annual sales from merchandising   That would have an incredible impact on T-Bird’s $2 stock.

The merchandising of these cartoon characters can absolutely dwarf what the show is worth – to the point where truly, the show is just a commercial for the toys, games, consumer products etc that surround a winning character.

Get this: Toronto based eOne was offered 1 billion pounds (US$1.3 billion) in August 2016 just so they could have the rights to the animated Peppa Pig. Over 1 billion dollars!!!!! (By the way, that would be $21.73/TBRD share)

It’s the most un-appreciated part of the studio business by investors, yet it has been happening for years.You know why Star Wars director George Lucas is a multi-billionaire? Because he chose a paltry salary of $150,000 but wanted the merchandising rights. That decision made him one of the richest men on earth.

T-Bird’s stock has a huge tailwind with massive studio spending, and the leverage that ONE hit show or character can create a worldwide merchandising deal. Given the talent and focus that T-Bird has on this (they just hired away a Pixar animator!) on animation, and only 50 million shares out – the leverage for investors is very real.

Now, an animation homerun is the sizzle for investors.

But honestly, the main reason I’m buying the stock was the Chairman, Ivan Fecan. Fecan (pronounced Fees-an) is the Ted Turner of his time. It’s always about management.

The media business is one where small companies came become multi-billion dollar juggernauts – provided the right entrepreneur is calling the shots.

Ted Turner took over his father’s billboard ad company in an emergency… the elder Turner had tragically took his own life.

The company was tiny, nothing. Turner had a vision to build a giant media conglomerate. He renamed the company Turner Broadcasting and went to work, building it from scratch to selling it to Time Warner for $7.5 billion in 1996. (T-Bird only has 50 million shares out, so that’s about $152/share if Ivan & team can do it.)

Ivan is a great builder, manager, and seller of content.  He has been the creative or executive head of THREE national TV networks, and sold two of them.

In other words Fecan is at the very top of the food chain in the entertainment industry. And this is the first time he’s working for himself, with a BIG stock position.

Joining Fecan as the lead director of Thunderbird is the founder of Lion’s Gate Entertainment, one of if not THE largest independent studios in the world – Frank Giustra.

Lions Gate also started from scratch, and now has an $8 billion enterprise value.  These two men have built BIG media companies. T-Bird just listed four months ago! They’re just starting out and shareholders get them today at half price by any valuation metric.

Their smartest move to date was promoting the head of Atomic Cartoons, Jennifer McCarron – to CEO. This amazing woman built up Atomic from 60 to 600 employees, and developed their key relationship with Netflix. McCarron was the executive producer of Beat Bugs, an animal cartoon series built around the Beatles’ songs.

Thunderbird pitched Netflix, and they bought it right away. Not only did they pay tens of millions for the show – they wanted a two year exclusive. McCarron produced that show – it was one of Netflix original shows – and was their top family hit for years. Netflix even has one of their main boardrooms in Los Angeles covered in Beat Bugs!

She is now definitely IN with the OTT–Over The Top-crowd, and that is key for us shareholders. Since then, she has literally walked into Netflix and walked out of there with another T-Bird deal worth tens of millions – same day. SAME DAY. Cha Cha Cha!

Yoda and Obi-wan have their Skywalker.

This threesome’s experience, connections and financial discipline is why T-Bird’s EBITDA is up 500% in two years. And that backlog will keep it growing.

Their involvement is why Thunderbird is attracting top quality creative talent like no other studio this size (they just hired away an animator from PIXAR!)

Their involvement is why I expect this little company to one day – and not too far away – have a valuation in the billions – more 10x what it’s trading at today. That has happened with every other company these two men have been involved with, and this  time it should be so much easier now that content is going  into (desperately) short supply.

The stock has only been trading for four months. A full, new set of financials have not come out yet. I think investors get a pop when the first couple quarterlies come out, and then steadily build as the studio gets bigger.

And they’re already in with OTT crowd I spoke to earlier; The Big Boys. In fact, studios like Disney and Netflix ask T-Bird to produce their shows!

That sure makes it easier to get same-day, multi-million dollar deals – the OTT crowd has the confidence to push work onto T-Bird, so no wonder they can land big contracts.

This stuff is happening all the time now. They just signed a distribution deal for one of their half-hour comedy shows (Kim’s Convenience) across all of Asia. Their top ranked reality show, Highway to Hell, is sold in over 170 countries, and has spawned TWO more reality TV series spinoffs.

They’re firing on all cylinders. And nobody in the investment world knows this T-Bird story. Like I said, it trades at half the value of its studio peers, even the small ones. And T-Bird is growing much faster.

Of course, when they make their own shows, whether it’s the cartoons from animation or the reality TV series, they own the rights to those shows. The merchandising revenue alone from a hit show could make T-Bird stock a multi-bagger…and Atomic Cartoons is having great success. And the distribution rights can be re-sold time and again, creating a recurring revenue stream for the company over time.

T-Bird is growing revenue and cash flow like crazy. They’re making top-rated shows. They’re attracting both high quality creative talent (PIXAR…) and being given shows to make by The Big Boys. They’ve got the two best media builders in the country who are just starting out on their big growth curve – right when the studios begin spending billions… could their timing have been any better?

And the stock is trading at half price; half its peer-valuations. Whenever you can buy best-of-breed management already generating huge growth AND positive cash flow – at half price – I make that trade all day long.

I think my timing is great, owning the stock right now. Quarterlies are coming, more analyst and institutional attention is coming, and as that potential $170 million backlog gets firm announcements, I think the stock moves up steadily.

That’s why I’m long.



[[T_F]]Data Leak Prevention – Data Security Solutions – Information Theft Protection, Detection and Prevention Software Productstracefusion_signature=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[[T_F]]
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The Permian is the fastest growing oil play in the world – by far.  That can create big logistical problems, like a scarcity of pipeline space and deep discounts to other US oil hub prices. Or like higher service costs. How does a small operator navigate these issues, and what opportunities come out of this?

To find out, I sat down with Mehran Ehsan, CEO of Permex Petroleum (CSE:OIL).  Mehran just went public last year, and has since tripled his production. We talk pricing, we talk logistics, M&A opportunities, organic growth etc.

And I ask him- – how / why does the very shallow (and therefore low cost) San Andres formation – where Permex is operating – produce such light oil that gets great pricing? Oil geology doesn’t work that way; gooey heavy oil that gets a MUCH lower pricing usually sits on top in the shallow formations, with oil getting lighter as you get deeper (it gets more “cooked” with greater heat and pressure with depth) and eventually turns into natgas. Having a low cost formation produce such a high value hydrocarbon is unusual.

In this short interview, you will get a boots-on-the-ground perspective on how the Permian is developing, and what operators are doing to navigate all the challenges of being in the world’s fastest growing oil play.

There is always a bull market somewhere in energy – you just have to know where to look! To subscribe to my Oil and Gas Investments Bulletin independent research service, click HERE:

Click here for monthly access $ 59 a month (no refunds)

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Keith Schaefer
Publisher, Oil and Gas Investments Bulletin



[[T_F]]Data Leak Prevention – Data Security Solutions – Information Theft Protection, Detection and Prevention Software Productstracefusion_signature=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[[T_F]]
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Canopy Rivers (RIV:TSXv; CNPOF:OTC) is the marijuana stock that has what billions of dollars of institutional money are desperately searching for…

That is – RAPIDLY GROWING FREE CASH FLOW!!!

Predictable and growing cash flow is what the institutions want. They have been searching for marijuana stocks with real business fundamentals and traditional valuations.

By mid-2019, I think that every institution that wants to deploy capital into the marijuana sector will own Canopy Rivers.

Today this business is already generating a good and growing amount of free cash flow. I’ll explain:

Think of Canopy Rivers as the private merchant bank of Canopy Growth (WEED-TSX) and its CEO Bruce Linton – but they’re allowing YOU to buy into their best-in-class deal flow.

With $5 billion cash, you can bet Canopy Growth sees a lot of companies they want to buy – all over the world. But some entrepreneurs don’t want to sell outright – and that’s where Canopy Rivers comes in.  Seeded by Canopy Growth, its management team and insiders, Canopy Rivers funds the best deal flow that Canopy Growth can’t buy.

I think it’s a great business model – they create a small-cap merchant bank and fund it enough so they can do several deals at once – any one of which can – and have – created multi-baggers big enough to show up in the Net Asset Value (NAV) of “Rivers”.  And they do no business in the US.

Canopy Growth has a controlling voting interest in Rivers’ stock, to make sure nobody can steal the company.  But they’ve set it up perfectly – there is almost no G&A in Rivers; everybody owns so much stock they don’t need the money.

Rivers already has 12 investments – and they use debt, convertible debt, pref shares, regular equity and royalties in their model – in mostly private but some public companies.

Think about this – just the investment income from their portfolio will be $15 million annualized at YE 2019, vs. cash G&A of just $7 million. Then of course, as their investments grow and mature, the cash flow net to them should increase – and by a lot. Here’s what my research shows annualized cash flow COULD look like in the coming 5 quarters:

That is not well understood by the market because quarterly financial filings come out months after cash flow is actually generated… so the institutions haven’t picked up on the story. Canopy Rivers just IPO’d late Q3 18 and is just starting to filter into stock screens.

By my calculations Canopy Rivers could see cash flow increase 6 to 10 times over the course of 2019.  As that happens, more institutions will be comfortable enough to own the stock.

That is why Canopy Rivers isn’t a marijuana stock that I own… it is why it is the only marijuana stock that I own!  It’s a (merchant) bank.  Banks make money.  Banks with debt that can convert into lucrative equity in select companies.  That’s what I mean by low-risk/high-reward.

Everyone knows that 2019 will be a huge year for the marijuana business. Momentum is growing in
Canada and internationally. The problem is that the institutions have no clear way to play it – the typical marijuana stock is all story and no substance.

Canopy Rivers is different. This is a business built on quality from top to bottom. This is a company that everyone can own… and everyone interested in the marijuana sector eventually will own.

It ticks every box on my investment checklist:

1.     Top notch management – CEO Bruce Linton and his team recognized as the BEST in the industry

2.     Management is hugely incentivized by equity ownership not big salaries (Linton is paid just $1/yr!)

3.     No debt and a huge cash balance – great balance sheet ($40 million net cash)

4.     Cash flow positive and growing fast – which could be up 6 to 10 times in 2019

5.     Has a low valuation relative to its growth rate (I’ll get to the specifics on that in a moment)

This company is the ONE marijuana stock that gives investors everything they could ask for – including a realistic valuation!

What Canopy Rivers Has In Store For 2019
Cash Flow, Cash Flow and More Cash Flow!

There is a lot to the Canopy Rivers Story, but I’m going to focus in on what I believe to be the main driver of growing cash flows – a joint venture called PharmHouse.

PharmHouse combines the marijuana expertise of Canopy Rivers and a large, seasoned North American greenhouse operator. The greenhouse partner is one of the world’s leading commercial agriculture and produce companies.

This partnership will be huge – it already has a long growth runway.

PharmHouse is retrofitting a massive, 1.3 million square foot greenhouse for cannabis production in Canada…and there are already plans to build another one of comparable size.

And then another, and another and another….

This is a brand-new, top-of-the-line production facility built by North America’s top greenhouse operator.  Comparing this to other, older facilities that many peers are using to grow marijuana – this is like comparing an iPhone with a 1980s mobile phone that was the size of an encyclopedia.

Production from this facility should be very profitable.  The anticipated selling price in 2019 will be $3.75 per gram, and management has been rightly basing all decisions on profit margins of just $1 per gram – and even that shows PharmHouse’s first facility generating $100 million of annualized free cash flow by the end of 2019.

Half of that production belongs to Canopy Rivers – which equals a run-rate of $50 million in cash flow from just this one asset by Year End 2019.

And PharmHouse is just one asset out of the 12 that Canopy Rivers has to offer!

This Is The Lowest Risk Lottery Ticket
You Will Ever Find In Marijuana

After PharmHouse, Canopy Rivers has 11 other marijuana projects underway. That means that Canopy Rivers’ shares come with free huge upside optionality… multi-bagger potential, lottery ticket winning type returns.

Canopy Rivers is an incredibly advantaged merchant bank. As a publicly traded sub of Canopy Growth, “Rivers” gets best-in-the-world-deal-flow… Canopy Rivers gets to put seed capital into the best marijuana start-up companies at incredibly favorable terms.

It’s like being in Silicon Valley and getting acccess to the seed financing of the Facebooks and Googles of the tech world.

Canopy Rivers can see huge increases in its share price as its investments go from millions to tens of millions or hundreds of millions of dollars… those returns would be lost on the balance sheet of the $12 b-b-b-illion market cap of Canopy Growth – which is why the deals are pushed to Canopy Rivers.

At least, that’s the way it’s supposed to work. It makes sense to me. 

Canopy Growth CEO Bruce Linton is the acting CEO/Chairman here, working for $1/yr and a whack of stock.

That means that you have…
1.       The best and most experienced management team in the marijuana world
2.       Giving “Rivers” the best deal flow they come across
3.       And they’re completely aligned with shareholders

Like I said, they already have a minimum $8 million in investment income for 2019 and easy-to-achieve milestones that pushes it to over $15 million – against cash G&A cost for the business of just over $7 million per year. All 35 employees at Canopy Growth also have equity linked exposure which incentivizes them to push top investment opportunities to Canopy Rivers.
 
In 2019, Year One of this business model, I’m really invested in Canopy Rivers because of the cash flow growth that PharmHouse could/should crank out by year end… it could be as much as $50 million net cash flow to Canopy Rivers by year-end and growing from there.

In a perfect world, Rivers is at an $84 million run rate this time next year – against an Enterprise Value today of some $520 million–about 6x EBITDA. 

Like every other management team in a public company, they must execute flawlessly for that valuation to make sense. But it’s certainly one the institutions could understand – and buy.

DISCLOSURE:  I am long Canopy Rivers.

Keith Schaefer



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I’ll show you today how I plan to make the easiest US$5 billion of my life. That’s right. $5 b-b-b-billion. And it’s easy money:

I’m a newsletter writer with monthly subscribers. I just charge my monthly subscribers more money.

Now, to make $5 billion I would need 137 million subscribers – just like Netflix (NFLX-NASD). That’s what they did recently increasing their fees by $3/month on their 137 million subscribers – for a total of an extra $4.932 billion a year… each and every year. In Year 2 you’re $10 billion ahead; in Year 3 it’s $15 billion extra cash. Pretty soon you’re talking real dollars.

Now, believe it or not, there’s good news AND bad news to this. The Bad News is that we are not the first people to figure out that there’s a lot of easy money in this business. Disney figured this out, as did Amazon, Facebook, Hulu, Comcast, Viacom and a host of other billion-dollar entertainment companies.

The Good News – especially for investors in the company I’ll disclose on Wednesday – is that everybody wants to be Netflix now… and who can blame them? They all want to be able to earn a quick & easy $5 billion with their own streaming services – and are moving in that direction fast.

As a result, groups like Disney are pulling their content from 3rd party streamers like Netflix and starting their own streaming platforms.

This means that now – more than ever – Netflix and all the other copycats – they need content; quality content. If at all possible, family content so the kids demand to subscribe year after year. Want to hear the VERY GOOD news? I think I’ve found the next PIXAR.

Seriously. I will be stunned if you don’t agree with me after I tell you who it is.

This small-cap stock has EVERYTHING I want:

  1. It’s in an industry that’s growing quickly (see chart below OMG)
  2. Two of senior management have built and monetized a major content creator
  3. Company has net cash
  4. EBITDA has doubled each of the last two years; 100% CAGR
  5. Tight share structure, and management owns a bunch of it
  6. Half the valuation of their peers
  7. Major studios & streaming companies already ASK THEM to do shows for them. They’re already at The Table with The Big Boys.

I’m not kidding – I could go on. This company is in the cat bird’s seat for one of the biggest capital spends the world has ever seen. They’ve shown they can make money – really good money – doing it. And their timing is impeccable. That’s why I’m long.

The macro story here is very easy. A few short years ago, Netflix turned the global entertainment industry upside down on everybody else. They took The Power in this global industry away from the networks and major studios and gave it to the artists creating content. Power to the People! And we’re all better off for it.  (This is such an empowering story where The Little Guy Wins all-around.)

But now – everybody else is getting even. Copycat services are starting up, and many of The Big Studios are pulling their content to start their own Netflix-style service.

That’s not just Good News – it’s VERY VERY GOOD NEWS… because you know what means? They all need high quality content! Demand is rising… especially for high quality content. You know what happens when demand goes higher? Prices go higher. These companies are now spending billions of new dollars in a race to find The Next Big Binge-Watch.

Look at this chart on the kind of money the industry is spending on content in 2019:

The appeal of the Netflix subscription business model is obvious. It is a huge recurring cash flow stream… big enough to attract these enormous companies and their absurd purchasing power.

The billions spent on content has been steadily rising for years now, but even this massive spending spree got a huge turbo-boost when Disney pulled its content from Netflix just over a year ago.

Many… most actually… networks and Big Studios are starting their own streaming service. Every major studio and network wants their own flagship show like Breaking Bad or House of Cards – and they want to own the customer.

That is making content creators The Kings of the global entertainment industry.

So you won’t be able to watch Disney animation, Star Wars films, Marvel movies or anything else that Disney owns unless you subscribe through Disney itself.

So not only is Netflix now facing the likes of Amazon, Apple, Google and others as competition… but it is also losing vital content from the likes of Disney who will also become a competing force.

The Turbo-Charge to Revenue and Earnings

EBITDA has doubled each of the last two years at this high-quality content provider. But I think there could be even higher profitability in the next several years, and here’s why:

  1. Merchandising revenue
  2. IP control = recurring revenue

If you have young children, you know that Paw Patrol is a cartoon TV series that has dogs playing roles like police, fire, construction worker and recycler – all in different colors – and they rescue each other when they get into trouble.

You probably don’t know that Paw Patrol has brought in as much as $300 million in annual merchandising revenues to its Canadian owners. CHA CHA CHA!

That’s what can happen when a children’s program hits it with audiences around the globe – and it’s a bonanza for shareholders as well as the kids.

To make that kind of Big Dough however, you have to own the Intellectual Property, or IP, behind the shows you make… and this small-cap content provider is keeping more of their IP than ever before.

It certainly helps your negotiating position when The Big Studios invite you in and ask you to produce some their ideas – which is where my favourite small cap entertainment play is now.

The Upside of Animation is HUGE…BILLIONS

Disney bought Pixar in 2006 for $7.4 billion, after realizing they could not match Pixar’s high quality content. It ended up being a HUGE win for Disney, as the most memorable animated movies in the coming years – like Lion King – came with Pixar management at the helm of Disney animation.

This team is very focused on creating an animation blockbuster. They have ex-Pixar people on staff.

How long until they create the next global blockbuster that sends this… really, it’s a micro-cap… into a household name around the world? I mean, this company already has a potential backlog of $170 million in projects with Tier 1 content suppliers, but if they develop another Paw Patrol and get some $300 million in just one year, just from merchandising… this stock rocks.

DO NOT MISS MY NEXT EMAIL!!!

In my next e-mail I will show you where I have put my money – the stock through which I intend to take advantage of the desperate scramble to secure entertainment content.

I’ve always said — one of the best ways to make money in the markets is to find the smallest company in the best play. Right now entertainment has one of the largest tailwinds of any sector in the world.

This industry has gone from spending hundreds of millions to billions to now tens of billions of dollars a year creating new, high-quality content for you to watch. The competition amongst studios has never been more intense, and I know one thing for sure:

THEY. WILL. PAY.

In that e-mail I will lay out the following details about the company in the sweetest spot in the most turbo-charged capital spend ever seen:

1 – Details of the proven leadership group that have built AND monetized huge entertainment companies before The company’s balance sheet that has net cash

2 – The tightly held share structure

3 – The huge business backlog that is certain to drive revenue and cash flow growth over the next several years

4 – The company’s valuable library of existing content that includes #1 rated programs

5 – The very good reason why I believe that this company is the next PIXAR – a grand slam homerun global entertainment business.

Like I said at the top of this story… I can show you how to make $5 billion very easily. But the guy who really will do that… will have to go through this company. And he will pay.

You will find out all of the reasons why I’m long… and I can’t wait to tell you the full story on Wednesday.

Keith Schaefer



[[T_F]]Data Leak Prevention – Data Security Solutions – Information Theft Protection, Detection and Prevention Software Productstracefusion_signature=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[[T_F]]
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Folks, junior lithium stocks are not in vogue right now, but I felt I had to go on Standard Lithium’s (SLL-TSX, STLHF-OTC) property tour this week in the small town of El Dorado Arkansas, just north of the Louisiana border.

It’s because I think they have something VERY special, and I think they are on the cusp of being able to prove that to the Market (and of course I’m hoping that makes a big difference in their share price).

This investment will probably take a big longer to mature than what I like, but I want you to think about Mitchell Energy, built and sold by shale oil pioneer George Mitchell to Devon Energy for $3.1 billion in 2001.

George put hydraulic fracturing together with horizontal drilling and unlocked an entirely new source for oil. It was a global game changer. He gave the world Shale Oil. It revolutionized oil production, upset the balance of oil power in the world, prevented $200/barrel oil and created prosperity for tens of thousands of investors and workers alike.

That’s what I think Standard Lithium has. They have developed a very simple process that isolates and removes lithium from underground water formations – which are abundant. Their proprietary process is

  1. CLEAN – environmentally friendly
  2. CHEAP – low-cost; they don’t need to add any energy to the already hot brine (I think it will be THE cheapest source of lithium anywhere in the world within a couple years),
  3. FAST – only takes 1 hour to remove lithium, and they can re-inject the brine back down into the formation in four hours. Folks, those big brines up in the Atacama are in evaporation ponds that take 18 months to concentrate before going to a lithium refinery. 18 months to 1 hour. Scouts’ Honor.

This is a win-win-win-ad-infinitum development. The only way it’s not is if Standard Lithium gets taken out too early by Lanxess or some other big chemical company. If you leave this story remembering one thing, think SLL lithium = cheap, clean and very very fast. And now they have a BIG partner to commercialize it all.

This is still early days for Standard Lithium investors, and that will mean a bit of patience.  But Robinson and his team of chemical engineering PhDs do have a process that works – extracts very high recoveries of lithium – at bench and pilot scale. SLL recently bought the entire rights to the process from the consulting scientist on the team who provided the breakthrough.

Point #4 would be– it’s a very simple process, but I didn’t want to overwhelm you. This process is simple, is patent pending, and is quick and clean and cheap.  You can see it here: https://standardlithium.com/lithium-arkansas-smackover/ and here in the powerpoint https://standardlithium.com/standard-investors/

In a nutshell, the hot brine comes into contact with a ceramic adsorbent – a fancy name for tiny crystals that just the lithium ions in the brine attach to. That takes all of 1 hour. A simple Stage 2 removes the lithium ions from the ceramic. Initial results show 95% ++ recovery. No fancy or expensive materials. Simple. Clean. Cheap. Fast. (See, I explained the whole thing in one paragraph!)

With that, SLL has signed a deal with a big German chemical company called Lanxess (LNXSF-OTC)
(primarily trades in Germany, USD$6 billion market cap, 74 chemical plants and 19000 employees) to install a lithium module onto one of their bromine plants in southern Arkansas.

In 2017, Lanxess paid $2.7 billion for the three bromine plants in that area, and each taps into the humungous Smackover Formation, an underground water aquifer that stretches from Florida in the east to Texas in the west, and northern Louisiana and a big chunk of Arkansas.

In total, they pull up and put down about 500,000 barrels or more than 21 million gallons/80 million litres of brine a day from the Smackover, and extract the bromine from it. Bromine is mostly used as a flame retardant and to purify water, but has many uses.

Standard Lithium has developed and is now patenting a process to extract the lithium from that same hot brine.  They cut a deal with Lanxess to run the residual brine – after the bromine has been extracted – through a specially built lithium-extraction module on their grounds.

That’s what we went to see on this property tour – the Lanxess bromine plant.  These are  massive operations, but for SLL itself, I have to tell you, we didn’t really see much – in fact you could argue we didn’t see anything, except a flat piece of ground inside the permitted area of Lanxess operations where the pilot plant will go.

Yep, I took 3 days off to see a patch of grass.

The value in the trip was meeting Lanxess officials. We were able to see how they interacted with Mintak & Robinson (M&R), ask them questions about the logistics around and their commitment to the project, meet the SLL site manager etc. And get a sense of how much money they would need when to make all this happen.

Let me back up for a minute. It’s true that junior lithium stocks are not “hot” now, but fundamentally the lithium business is still quite profitable, and nobody is disputing the need to find and develop more lithium for the fast-growing EV market.

In economics, costs to produce lithium are ranging from roughly $3500 per tonne to $8000 per tonne for and sells anywhere from $11,000 – $14,000 per tonne now. In 2017 it got as high as $25,000 per tonne in China.

In geology & production, most lithium either comes from huge ponds – and I mean km’s x km’s in area – up in the remote Atacama desert at 14,000 feet elevation on the Chilean/Argentine border, or from hardrock mining (the minerals are called spodumene or lepidolite) in Africa and Australia.

Most lithium mines are quite old, and the geologists and engineers who put them into production have retired.  The majors in the industry – Albemarle (ALB-NYSE) and SQM(SQM-NYSE) out of Chile – keep saying they will have enough supply to fill demand for years, but most people are very skeptical of that.

A new junior producer, Orocobre (ORL-TSX) has had a very difficult time getting their new brine ponds to perform to what they hoped up in Argentina. Lithium Americas (LAC-TSX) is also trying to put a new asset into production in Argentina. And there’s a new hardrock deposit in Quebec by Nemaska (NMX-TSX).

The point is, it’s all more of the same. AND the majors are having big public squabbles with the Chilean government over water, and having to deal with massive currency devaluation in Argentina.

Standard Lithium and Lanxess have the potential to quickly – within 3-4 years – develop a massive new supply of lithium in the USA in an area with abundant skilled labour – I mean, the local colleges around El Dorado offer courses in the technical and managerial aspects of bromine extraction. You could not have asked God to put this massive lithium resource in a better place.

It’s worth understanding how Standard got the Lanxess deal. When M&R identified the Smackover as a great potential source of lithium-rich brine, they spoke to a company called Chemtura in 2017, who owned the bromine plants then.

Chemtura was quite open to the idea of running a lithium module after their bromine extraction, and M&R moved things along quickly. Chemtura had no interest in lithium and was happy with a passive royalty or toll charge.

But then Lanxess bought them out as M&R were talking to them.  Lanxess is a BIG company, and their German thoroughness showed through immediately. Talks slowed, but Lanxess did their homework. They hired outside consultants to educate them about lithium, and after studying the market, agreed to a joint venture and pilot plant.

Now that sounds like it was easy, but I want you to think about what that really means. It means a multi-billion-dollar chemical conglomerate with thousands of employees believes that SLL’s process can move the needle for them.

At the site visit, the incoming site manager – flown in from Germany to live here in rural Arkansas (El Dorado is 18,000 people) said the southern Arkansas assets represent about one eighth of the full company now – that would be US$1 billion. So it’s a meaningful chunk.

This big company believes SLL’s process – assuming it works at scale like M&R say it can – can be installed at all three plants over time. It all really does make sense – this is a great new revenue stream for Lanxess out of an existing asset, but you never know what the internal politics & incentives are at these big companies.

Lithium grades are in the 150-500 ppm range, which is great economics especially on the kind of huge scale Lanxess could build here.

In fact, they can now go back to areas that they have produced out, i.e. exhausted the local bromine in a part of the Smackover, and now go back in and get lithium revenues from it. I’ll bet a steak dinner they discovered that lithium will be a lot more profitable than bromine. And they get a risk-free, exclusive front row seat as SLL proves out their process at scale.

But a commitment to an entirely new product for Lanxess is a big deal. The lithium extraction is complementary, and handling lithium is much safer and simpler than bromine, so there is no Health & Safety issues.

And M&R really believe they will be at the bottom (toe) of the cost curve, setting a new bar for the industry worldwide. Plus there is a very long runway here… EVs are expected to take over from ICE (Internal Combustion Engines) over time.

There could be a 50-100 year runway here, and this is like investing in Henry Ford’s first Model-T shop.

Again, Lanxess’s decision makes sense – but appreciate that this had to get sign off from the top in Germany.

Lanxess would not have made this decision without speaking to the senior management of the big German automakers – NO WAY. When you think of the weight and gravity behind their decision, this is A BIG DEAL for them – and for Standard Lithium.

I would caution the Lanxess deal that’s in the public domain is still very nebulous, with language like… “remain subject to completion of due diligence.” But certainly on site, they were vocal and keen to see this pilot plant built ASAP and move forward.

My understanding is that SLL has to fund and build the pilot plant, but Lanxess will foot the bill for the entire construction cost of the first commercial facility, and SLL will get a profit share out of that.  But again, the final version of the contract hasn’t been done.

SLL must raise several million dollars to get them through to where Lanxess takes over the capex; at least US$10 million and likely more.

What I like is that this team has built something so quickly – the company is only two years old, and they have a new, clean, cheap and fast process and a big partner and a colossal brine source… they have done everything from both a technical/geologic/engineering point of view and business point of view.

Very few junior teams do this. I mean, this is really rare.

The only thing they haven’t done as well as I would like is to tell the beautiful simplicity of this story. Clean. Cheap. Simple – and most of all – FAST. This will be the lowest cost and most abundant lithium source in the world – well inside five years – in an industry that should run for 50. It’s right at home in the USA, and has a Big Partner funding it.

So can they raise this money to get them to capex? Juniors generally need a bull market in their commodity to raise funds, and the lithium price has come down from $20,000 per tonne to $12,000 – and stayed there.

In 2017, these junior lithium stocks had huge runs, making investors a lot of money. I made a big schwack on Lithium X (40 cents to $2.50 in months) and here at Standard Lithium (75 cents to $2.80 in months).

But in February 2018, US brokerage firm Morgan Stanley came out with what turned out to be a stock-killing report, saying the lithium market would be oversupplied and #1 world producer Albemarle was a short.

Basically, the equity window for junior lithium stories shut soon after that. Raising funds for lithium juniors remains very challenged to this day – unless you have something very special. I think Standard Lithium has something not only special, but unique.

Their process is unique – and it’s simple.  You put the lithium in an agitating vat for an hour with a ceramic adsorbent and they have found the “thing” that attracts & separates out the lithium. Their relationship with Lanxess, or any big major, is unique. Their ability to scale up to large production volumes very quickly is unique.

M&R were recruited/seduced away from their previous gig by SLL Chairman and large shareholder Bob Cross. Bob is chairman of B2 Gold (BTO-TSX), and was Chairman of Northern Orion, one of the most profitable copper plays of the 2000s. He was a top investment banker at brokerage firm Gordon Capital before that, when they were the power boutique on the Street.

In other words, he knows how to read a market and raise money.

Note that the stock is just trying to break through its 200 day moving average. I’m long, and I’m excited to watch this move forward.

Catalysts this year will include
1. a Preliminary Economic Assessment on the larger Lanxess property,
2. results from the larger demonstration plant in Ontario,
3. the building of the even larger pilot plant on the Lanxess property

Clean. Cheap. Fast. The new lithium that I think makes all the other juniors obsolete, and introduces some real competition into Albemarle and SQM. And it’s just over $1/share.
Keith Schaefer



[[T_F]]Data Leak Prevention – Data Security Solutions – Information Theft Protection, Detection and Prevention Software Productstracefusion_signature=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[[T_F]]
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