April 8, 2000
Ashanti Goldfields Company Limited (ASL on NYSE) Accra, Ghana Tel: (44) 171- 256-9938 Price: April 7/00: $2.25, 52-week range: $10.12-1.62. Last reviewed on Dec 26/99. 4th Q production 437,178 ounces of gold at a cash cost of $190/oz and for all of 1999, 1,561,536 ounces at a cash cost of $206. On April 5, ASL announced that it has entered into an agreement with South Africa-based Anglo Gold for the sale of a 50% effective joint venture interest in the Geita gold project in Tanzania. The 12 million ounce deposit is slated to produce 550,000 oz of gold/year at a cash cost of $170/oz. Buildup to production is expected in the 3rd Q of this year and full production during the 4th Q. Terms of the agreement: Anglo Gold will pay $205 million in cash plus project financing of $130 million. Consequently, Ashanti’s debt could be reduced to approx $300 million from $550 million. Anglo Gold is the world’s largest gold producer with annual production of 7.6 million ounces coming from 4 continents. This deal is a savior for ASL who was caught in a margin bind after having entered into aggressive forward selling of gold contracts. While the presence of some shareholder class action suits might cause a dampening effect on the stock, ASL shares, nevertheless, appear undervalued. A more realistic stock trading price would be in the range of $4.
Braun’s Fashions Corporation (BFCI on NASDAQ), Minneapolis, MN, Tel: (612) 551-5000. Price: April 7/00: $24.62, 52-week range: $27.50-5.34. This is a first time look at the company. BFCI is a Minneapolis-based specialty retailer of women’s clothing and accessories providing exclusive fashions under the Christopher & Banks label. Presently, the Company has 236 stores operating in 26 states, primarily in the northern regions throughout the US. For the year ended Feb 26, the company reported sales increased 30% to $143 million from $110 million and net income increased 86% to $11.5 million, or $1.64/sh from $6.2 million, or $0.86/sh. Fourth Q was even better with net up 167% to 72 cent/sh from 29 cents/sh on a 44% increase in sales to $45 million. Same store sales increased 26% in the last quarter and 17% for the full year. This trend has continued into the new year when same store sales in March increased 39%. Co. plans to open 35 new Christopher & Banks stores this year and announced the launch of a new division catering to the women’s large size market. Twenty of these C.J.Banks stores are slated to open this Fall. There are 7.3 million fully diluted shares. Earnings for this year should attain $2 per fully diluted share. BFCI stock could easily trade at a 15 times multiple to this.
Datawest Solutions Inc. (DS on TSE), Vancouver, BC Tel (604) 605-3800. Price: April7/00: $4.60, 52-week range:$5.25-1.90. This is the first mention in this newsletter. Company’s technology handles banking transactions, mainly for credit unions in BC and Saskatchewan. Recently expanded into on-line banking through 15 Sask. Credit unions that acquired an additional 17 Bank of Montreal rural branches. The 100 credit unions and the 17 bank branches cater to 870,000 customers. Datawest provides processing for loan and deposit account for these customers. On April 5, DS and NCR Corporation announced that they had entered into an agreement to jointly provide on-line banking services to financial institutions. This involves a new system based on the PROFILE application from Sanchez Computer Associates. This new system housed at NCR’s US data centres will support more than 300 community bank customers throughout the US. DS had revenues for the Dec 1999 year of Cdn$34 million. Company is led by Darryl Yea, former head of CM Oliver, an old Vancouver brokerage firm, and has on its board Michael Johnson, ex-president of VSE and ex CEO of Household Financial Canadian group of co’s and Paul Starita, a well known figure in banking and investment circles. DS has currently 20.1 million shares out.
EleTel Inc. (LETL.U on Cdn.Unlisted) Vancouver, BC Tel: (604) 222-0175 Price: April 7/00: US$0.70, 52-week range:US$1.30-0.60. Last mentioned on March 1, 2000. On March 29, EleTel announced that it will be unveiling Callex Web/VPIM, the first stand-alone, PC-server based Voice Profile Internet Mail (VPIM) compliant voice and fax messaging solution, making voicemail as flexible as email. Callex can create and send voice messages from a telephone or cell phone, a browser, or e-mail program to any telephone or cell phone, email address or portable Internet device, all for free via the Internet. Callex will be introduced at the Electronic Messaging Association annual trade show in Boston on April 6 to 8. Company has 26,715,614 shs. out.
Freewest Resources Canada Inc. (FWR on ME), Montreal, QC. Tel: (514) 878-3551, Price: April 7/00: Cdn$0.90, 52-week range: $1.20-0.15. Last mentioned on July 20, 1997 when trading at 45 cents. Property gathering attention these days is the Clarence Stream in southwest New Brunswick. Also worth noting is the Golden Ridge prospect that straddles mining friendly New Brunswick and mining unfriendly Maine. With some 50 million shares expected to be outstanding, the market is judging the Clarence property as possibly hosting 1.5 million gold equivalent ounces. Good luck!
Innovium Capital Corp. (IN on ME), Toronto, ON, Tel: (416) 862-7444. Price: April 7/00: $1.82, 52-week range: $3.00-0.16. This is the first mention of IN. Formerly known as Agritek Bio Ingredients Corp, the company sold its agribusiness for Cdn$0.5 million and some royalties over the next 5 years. Its main business now, expected to start up June 30th/00, is in a joint-venture, NoTime Wireless, with Halifax-based ThinWEB Technologies. The technology consists of ThinSuite, a diverse set of thin client applications collectively delivering information from back office databases to the mobile user. The technology is proprietary to ThinWEB Technologies, who is attempting to go public by means of an IPO. NoTime Wireless is therefore mainly a marketing concern, of which Innovium appears to own 50%. IN has 28 million shares out, fully diluted will be 32.5 million shares.
Mobile Computing Corporation (MBL on TSE), Mississauga, ON, Tel: (416) 657- 2400, Price: April 7/00: $4.85, 52-week range: $15.50-0.15. This is the first mention of the company in this newsletter. The company is a supplier of wireless on-board information systems to the transportation industry. These systems enable fleet operators to communicate with and monitor the activities of their vehicles, the movement of goods and to manage their operations. A wholly owned subsidiary, MJ Systems, is a supplier of information technology and services to the distribution industry. Recently, the company has concluded two interesting strategic marketing agreements. The first was between MJ Systems and Psion Inc, the US subsidiary of the Psion Group, a world leader in mobile digital computing and communications. The agreement is to market mobile distribution solutions for the US business-to-business market. The 2 companies will focus on marketing Mobile Computing’s software solutions integrates with Psion’s worldclass handheld computing products. Among their first major customers are USA Today and the Philadelphia Enquirer, providing these two with mobile newspaper logistics management. The other strategic marketing agreement is between Mobile Computing and Bsquare Corporation to jointly offer a wireless communications product which enables both TCP/IP routing over a broad range of wireless data networks. Annual revenues for 1999 were $15.6 million, net loss was $5.3 million or 27 cents/sh. MBL has 28.4 million shares outstanding.
Pier 1 Imports, Inc (PIR on NYSE) Fort Worth, TX Tel: (817) 252-8400 Price: April 8/00: $11.50, 52-week range: $12.38-5.25. Last mentioned on Dec 26/99 at $6.12. The company reported sales for the 5-week period ended April 1 at $114 million, an increase of 18.2%. Of special significance is that same store sales were up 12.4%, which has been the weak area for Pier 1 over the last year or so. The company is looking for a strong spring season due to the mailing of a 16-page color sales piece to 5 million households, supported by new advertising. The stock has reached its near-term target, but could be held for the long haul.
Spectrum Signal Processing Inc. (SSPIF on NASDAQ, SSY on TSE), Burnaby, BC Tel: (604) 421-5422, Price: April 7/00: C$ 7.90, 52-week range: $13.20-2.30. In recent years, revenues and profit for this provider of integrated multiprocessing hardware and software solutions have been flat, perhaps because the company relied too much on defense contracts. The three main target markets now are telecommunications, signal intelligence, and sensor systems. Spectrum now has new top management, led by 39 year-old Pascal Spothelfer, former president & CEO of NovAtel Inc. On March 23, Spectrum announced it had reached a licensing and partnering agreement with Virata Corporation , a leading supplier of broadband communications equipment. This agreement allows Spectrum to combine its high-density signal processing capabilities with Virata’s leading-edge vcore software to address the fast growing market for converging telecommunication infrastructure products. This deal may be only the first of several which should put Spectrum back on a fast track growth mode. Sales in 1999 at $26 million were flat in comparison to last year’s, although sales in the last quarter were up 19%, year over year. The company has 10.3 million shares outstanding.