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Interview with Rick Rule, President and CEO of Sprott U.S. Holdings Inc.

Once again I had the pleasure of catching up with Rick Rule, and in this interview we talked about the Uranium market, Bitcoin, Gold, and the lessons he learned from his early mentor Peter Cundill. Enjoy!

Hi Rick, welcome back to The Next Bull Market Move. I’d like to start the interview with a question about one of your early mentors, Peter Cundill.

I understand he was an early mentor of yours at the beginning of your career, and I have recently been reading the book ‘There is always something to do’ which is about his investments and how he invested. What were the most valuable lessons your learned from him?

During the period of time that I was learning from Peter, he was focused on deep value opportunities of two primary types; net nets (companies where current assets exceeded all liabilities, and market cap) that were operationally cash flow positive, and companies with hidden, mispriced or redundant assets.

Peter loved closely held timber companies whose forest lands were selling for half of market value, or had real estate development potential. He called the cash flow positive net- nets, free bonds, meaning that you got the cash generating for free, after subtracting current assets from enterprise value.

That’s very interesting. I have a couple of quotes and I’d like to get your thoughts on these quotes from Peter Cundill.

‘My history has always been in buying securities when they’re unpopular.’

Peter was of the habit of looking for extraordinary value, which was enabled by a tolerance for pain (a declining share price) and remarkable patience. He was not afraid to be right. Those bargains were seldom available in popular sectors, or favorable markets

‘Investors tend to follow trends and fashion rather that taking the trouble to look for value.’

This was a common theme of Peter’s, and a reason behind the long term success of most value investors. Most investors (maybe most people) believe themselves to be very cogent, rational beings, surveying the information landscape, accumulating facts, and weighing them objectively to reach reasoned conclusions.

Wrong! Most folks search for information that affirms their existing paradigms and prejudices, they look for justifications for comfortable narratives. Hence, trends in motion stay in motion, long after the circumstances that caused the trends cease to exist.

Value investors, including Peter, and certainly myself, are repeatedly guilty of the same sin, but we are taught to try to recognize it and guard against it. Peter’s guard was particularly successful, he was a pathological cheapskate, so he had a quantitative guard against fashion.

What are your thoughts behind Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies as a speculation? Will this space eventually turn into a dotcom mania like the late 1990’s?

Kerem, I’m the wrong one to ask, I don’t own a TV, and I can’t dress myself in stuff that matches! As a judge of popular culture, I’m your last choice.

That being said, I love the sector, in many regards. The technology, the “block chain” and the distributed ledger have the possibility to make many aspects of human culture, but particularly commerce and trade, much more efficient, while eliminating many of the supposed needs for government regulation and taxation.

As currencies, I’m a consumer of currencies, and mediums of exchange, and stores of value. A multiplicity of choice, competition between various currency systems to serve me better, is something I enjoy!

The ability to create and market an algorithm, and market it as a dream, converting the promoters ability to market the dream, in return for other peoples earned wealth will attract some very smart, and likely stupendously successful scam artists, who just like central bankers, will bill savers and investors out of billions of other currency units. Governments hate this, they want a monopoly on fraud and extortion, but in this circumstance, they are entering into a battle of wits, under armed.

Once again, the sentiment surrounding Uranium has fallen into pessimism and despair. Speculators have left the scene since the big run up we had at the beginning of the year. It seems to me that for the most part, investing early in bull markets involves patience and being able to handle a certain amount of boredom. When a market does nothing, no one is interested. When a market is rising, everyone is interested. Is Uranium following a similar path to the previous bull market you speculated in?

The early run up in uranium equities was a very interesting phenomenon in that it occurred on very low volume. I think two forces were at play. One, I believe a three year “bear market” wore out the sellers, they were out of inventory, and the shares had moved to stronger hands. At the same time, speculators with longer memories, of the last bull market, began to accumulate, in hopes of a repeat. The companies, stumbling on a funding window, which could and did save the sector from extinction, drowned the buyers in an avalanche of freshly issued equity.

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MARKET SUMMARY

INDICES

Name Last Change
DOW 23328.60 0.71%
S&P 500 2575.21 0.51%
NASDAQ 6629.05 0.36%
TSX 15857.22 0.25%
TSX-V 789.51 0.00%

Resource Commodities

Name Last Change
Gold 1280.70 0.71%
Silver 17.04 1.23%
Copper 3.15 0.33%
Platinum 923.75 0.35%
Oil 51.29 1.46%
Natural Gas 2.87 0.66%
Uranium 20.14 N/A
Zinc 1.44 0.00%

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