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    Sunday, August 02, 2009


    Cape Lambert Iron Ore (CFE CFE.AX)

    Cape Lambert Iron Ore (CFE CFE.AX AU:CFE) owns a number of natural resource related projects either outright or through ownership of shares in other listed or unlisted companies. CFE are not miners but instead trade natural resource projects. They often develop a project to the point where it could be mined and then sell it. They buy or take a share in individual projects or small companies, develop the projects and then sell them on to larger companies.

    Cape Lambert has quite a history;

    Apparently there was some board reluctance to sell Cape Lambert at the time. The board wanted to spend another 10-15M to improve the resource. Apparently Tony Sage pushed hard to get the sale through as he believed they had reached the optimum cost benefit for further drilling. With hindsight it was a brilliant decision.

    Since the 2008 annual report the company;

    CopperCo was acquired by total payments of 129.7M made up of:

    Fortunately I was never a shareholder of CopperCo because their assets were sold at the absolute market bottom for a small fraction of their fair value based on normalized (not peak) commodity prices. The managers of CopperCo did the owners a great disservice by taking on a level of debt that put immense value at refinancing risk. All this is great news for holders of CFE (which incidentally doesn’t have any debt).

    The material assets of CFE are shown in the table below. There are multiple sources for the value of the CopperCo assets. These valuations are generally not peak valuations and have been adjusted for my long term commodity price assumptions. I have validated some of these valuations where underlying data was available. For example CopperCo published cashflow expectations for the Lady Annie Project and if anything they support a higher value than other sources.

    Sum of the parts valuation of CFE

    CFE recently did a road show around Australia and released a presentation on the ASX. They disclosed that they are reviewing a potential trade sale of Lady Annie for around $150M . Hopefully they won’t proceed with such a sale. They revealed in their quarterly report that they have commenced a 2 year exploration program to expand the resource. CFE have a good (yet short) track record of adding value prior to sales and of selling once an appropriate (but not exhaustive) amount of value has been added. There is no reason that they can’t secure $200M for Lady Annie. My “Estimate” case assumes $150M for Lady Annie.

    An article in Australia’s Paydirt has Tony Sage, the Executive Chairman stating that the company is going to try to sell their interest in Marampa for $400M US. I have no basis to value Marampa so I’ve assigned it the carrying value of $25M in my “Estimate” case (I’ve assigned $150M per the road show slides in the High case).

    As mentioned above, there is 80M yet to be received from the sale of their name sake mine to MCC. I have assumed they will not meet the criteria to receive that payment in my “Estimate” case. The High case assumes they will receive the payment.

    Finally there are some small equity investments that based on the road show disclosures I've valued at $7M.

    Tony Sage, the Executive Director, has quite a storied history. Western Australian Police investigated Sage in relation to a vehicle that was later used in a crime, no charges were ever filed. He was supposed to have attended a soccer game with a criminal figure, though the newspaper that published the report later retracted it. Sage owns a Perth Soccer Club, night clubs and Fashion magazine Kurv. Sage has dealt extensively with Frank Timis, who hired Sage to work on Gabriel Resources many years ago. Timis is a controversial Romanian-Australian businessman who was arrested for Heroin dealing in his younger days. Sage is of the view that Frank needed to support his family. They have been friends for over 16 years. Ultimately Timis has made money for Sage and in turn for Sage’s shareholders. Timis was the seller of Marampa, through African Minerals. Sage has been criticized for the deal but time will tell how it works out. Most of Sage’s wealth is his equity in CFE so his interests appear to be well aligned with other share holders. Sage has developed a reasonable track record for proving the pundits wrong.

    I don’t like the Marampa deal because the political risk in Sierra Leone (and in turn the increased discount rate for investment there) adds a factor that I don’t think CFE have sufficient experience dealing with. There have already been legal issues with the Marampa project. They may well get lucky and sell the deal to another company that will need to deal with the political risk; Chinese companies seem quite comfortable in Africa and Sage has been able to sell his projects on to Chinese companies. There were so many opportuities in natural resources earlier in the year that I am disappointed they didn’t forgo Africa and focus on more politically secure areas of the world. However, maybe that is what is causing such a dramatic under valuation in CFE shares.

    Based on the sum of the parts valuation CFE is worth around 94c. Remeber this estimate assumes no residual from the MCC deal and no value to Marampa. Worst case it seems extremely unlikely that CFE is worth less than 39c. An article in the Mining Journal has Sage assert that CFE is worth at least 150% of its current market value of $150M. I would agree.

    My average cost is about 32c. I am trying to buy more but I haven’t been willing to pay up after the recent rise. The combination of the recently completed road show, the resurgent broad market and a better appreciation of the Copper Co assets appear to be causing a revaluation of Cape Lambert. CFE most recently closed at 35.5c on the ASX for appreciation of nearly 175%. With no debt it is easy to make the case that Cape Lambert Iron Ore should hold a large sized position in your portfolio.

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    Disclaimer and Disclosure Analyses are prepared from sources and data believed to be reliable, but no representation is made as to their accuracy or completeness. I am not paid by covered companies. Strategies or ideas are presented for informational purposes and should not be used as a basis for any financial decisions.
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