How to lose friends and piss off shareholders
I like energy stocks. We passed peak oil two years ago and so far no one but me has realized that when you have passed the peak, you are past peak oil. We passed peak production in May of 2005. You can look for higher prices forever.
There are times I actually think I am dealing with utter idiots. And other times I don't just think I am dealing with idiots, I know.
A very nice reader sent me an email a week or so back. You don't need to know his name or email so I've left it out but here is the exchange.
I truly feel bad for Bill Cawker. His mother was 81 years old and died on the 4th of January and was buried on the 10th of January. But Bill is the president of a pubic company and a month after his mother dies, he can't answer the questions of a concerned shareholder? Bill, get over it. Stuff happens.
Let me give you a little background. I was introduced to Bill Cawker in November of 2006 when he contacted me about a well his company intended to drill in the next six weeks. I wrote the project up. That was in November. The six weeks turned into 10 months. And face it; communication is not their strong suite.
I'd say that they aren't much better at drilling wells. Austin put up $3 million and by August of 2007 they finally got around to drilling the well. They have finished the well. I think the $3 million estimate doubled and if I'm not wrong, I think they blew through $6 million doing the well.
They finished the well in December. They just haven't told anyone if they have hit hydrocarbons or not. I'd guess when you pour $6 million down a well you should know if you hit anything or not but they can't figure it out in three months The last press release said they would log the well in January.
It's February and while I feel bad for Bill, his mother was 81 and it's not all that uncommon for people to die. If Bill Cawker can't handle the responsibility of being an office in a public company, he should resign.
But I'm not totally clueless or hopeless. I email Bill Cawker firstname.lastname@example.org and get no reply. So I called him on both numbers I have for him and got no reply. (604) 921-1202 and (604) 649-0080. So I called the effervescent Larry Myles, so-called Investor Relations guru. (604-408-7600) He hung up as soon as he heard my voice.
Now I'm thinking these guys really are hiding something. So I called Declan Sweeney of Austin Developments. (604) 689-1799 some secretary brushed me off as soon as I identified myself.
I'm a big shareholder in both companies, to the tune of a few gazillion shares. I didn't get any special deal or free shares or options. I bellied up to the bar and put my money down. I've bought lots of shares on the open market with both companies. When Cawker wanted me to exercise warrants early and to participate in a private placement in November, I did it.
It would really be nice to know what the status of this well is. Our reader who first contacted Larry Myles, then Bill Cawker, then me, did nothing more than ask what dozens of other people have written me to ask. What's up?
I don't know. These idiots not only can't drill a simple oil well, they can't figure out if it contains oil or how to communicate with shareholders.
Someone needs to beat them over the head with a telephone pole.
I've got a few comments for Bill and his buddies. Calling an oil well the "Blowout Project" is one of the dumber moves I have ever seen. But using a hotmail email address is about as stupid and unprofessional. But for it to be a part of corporate culture to deliberately ignore shareholders in this age of instant communication is downright foolish. You might piss off the wrong guy and get to read all about it on the Internet.
I made the mistake of writing about these companies. I bought shares in private placements and on the open market. Like many of our readers who listened to me, I made a giant mistake. These guys have no regard for shareholders and the kindest thing I can say about them is that as a group, they are both clueless and hopeless.
I will never put another cent into either one of them for any reason and you shouldn't either. They have done nothing but destroy shareholder value and can't be bothered to be honest enough to even admit it. Montello has ballooned from 113 million shares in Oct of 2006 to 176 million shares now and they had a carried interest. Austin increased their number of shares outstanding by 50% during the same period and have nothing at all to show for it.