Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Since Soros Bailed on InterOil It's Probably a Short (IOC)

We've had a lot of posts on this one.
At $59.22 the stock is down considerably from its 52-week high of $99.05 but there could still be a bunch  of downside.
At one time Soros Fund Management owned 12% of IOC but in February they cut that to 3.82% and as of their last 13F had sold out completely.

The much hyped play is natural gas in Papua New Guinea (PNG), converted into LNG and sold to the Japanese for big money. Unfortunately such dreams don't come cheap. Here's the competition getting a shock: "Exxon's PNG LNG project costs balloon to $19 billion". And:
LNG Cost Blowouts Jeopardize Australia's Future
Australia’s biggest resource project, the Gorgon liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant, could see costs blow out from the current $43 billion to more than $60 billion....
Anyhoo, here's Lakeview Investment Group's Short InterOil Presentation at the Invest for Kids Conference:

IOC-Lakeview Investment Group-Invest for Kids 2012 Speech-11!7!12

HT: Guru Focus which also has the 16 page presentation with slides.

We have dozens of posts on this one, here some of my favorites:

May 2011
Now That's a Portfolio! (IOC)
“We are 10% invested (short position in InterOil Corporation)
and 90% cash/money markets.” 

-Newsletter publisher Dennis Slowthower 
quoted in Peter Brimelow's May 5 MarketWatch 

May 2010
Whitney Tilson: Score! In a Move that Stunned Wall Street (and Soros and Goldman) InterOil has Problems (IOC; GS)
... Here's the latest. From Sam Antar (Crazy Eddie fraudster) whose "about me" says "I am a convicted felon and a former CPA" (insert family shame joke here):

Is InterOil Built on a Foundation of Fraud?
IOC first came to our attention in December 2009:
"Media relations emails of the day, Interoil edition" (IOC)

From Felix Salmon at Reuters:
On Monday, Barry Minkow put out a press release accusing a NYSE-listed company, InterOil, of being “nothing more than hype”. InterOil has had a large short interest for some time, and it seems that Minkow touched a nerve, because InterOil’s senior manager for media relations, Susuve Laumaea, went borderline insane via email in response:
you are a gutless coward of the highest order, a jealous and envious SOB… You are a loser, a non-achiever and a sour-grape. Piss off you good for nothing… Do not be afraid on account of me being a descendant of cannibals … no, no, believe me, I will not cannibalise you or feed you to the swamp crocodiles…
you are known crook, conman, convicted felon, a psychopath and a pathological liar who is jealously envious… You have no sense of common decency. You are neither here nor there among the cream of decent God- fearing humanity. You are a scum of the earth, a creepy-crawlie who should have been locked away and the key thrown away too so that you rot away like the dung heap you are. You are a coward of the highest order… I can’t use you as crocodile feed because you are too poisonous … those alligators will die eating you, cooked or uncooked…
Who gave you the authority to investigate InterOil, you piece of shitty non-entity? You are nothing more than an internet pirate, a low-life manipulator who is out to profit by your dishonest, fraudulent, slanderous and cowardly methods. Up yours....MORE
I referred back to that post in March 2010:
My Favorite Stock Scam Blowhards
Re-reading the email from the senior manager of InterOil's media relations department reminded me of one of the best ever. I referenced it in a post on Planktos which long time readers will remember as one of the best shorts ever.

After doing this a while you don't even need to call in the forensic accountants to spot the weird ones. A bit of backround, Equisure Inc. was purportedly a reinsurer based in Belgium that had, in a remarkably short period of time gone from the NASDAQ bulletin board to the American Stock Exchange by way of a reverse merger with a dormant shell company.

The heart of the scam was to hype the stock by way of news releases to a) gun the stock for the early buyers and b) get the stock on the Federal Reserve Board's list of marginable securities.
That step is a bit more sophisticated than your run-of-the-mill pump and dump because it allows the crooks to borrow against the shares rather than having to sell them. The lack of selling pressure makes it easier to maintain the run-up until the plug is pulled.

Of course the scammers also took whatever petty cash was in the company's coffers.
I never saw a complete accounting but a fair estimate of the EQE take was $100 Mil.

From our June 27, 2007 post "Planktos Highlights Real Ocean/Climate Crises & Responds to Recent Misinformation Campaigns":
But first, one of my favorite examples of a stock scam (I told you, I have a morbid fascination with the underbelly of the markets, it's like watching the lions approach the wildebeest at the watering hole, you don't want to see it but you can't look away):

...Peter Uttley, Equisure's chairman and a former Lloyds of London executive, took control of the company this week, assuming the chief executive post....

...Uttley said in the press release that his chairman role had been a "passive" one, but he now plans an active reorganization of the company, whose reputation has been stained by allegations that it is a scam insurance operation....

...In an unusually emotional statement to the press, sent from an Equisure board meeting Friday in London, Uttley told his version of events over the summer, which eventually led to the delisting of Equisure shares on the American Stock Exchange.
"The simple truth was consumed in the belly of deception, but now has been vomited for the world to see," Uttley began.
He then proceeded to tell a story of three men, whom he described as "liars," "cheats," and "scallywags," who worked with law enforcement officials and the press to spread false rumors about the company with the intent of buying Equisure out at 50 cents a share, a tiny fraction of the stock's trading price of $15, before AMEX suspended trading Aug. 1.
Isn't that damn fine bloviating? It's hard to research but I think Uttley et. al. got away with $100 mil.