Understanding management priorities on price

I’ve been wrestling with the issue of divergent interests between management and shareholders of a public company. How can the stock price of a great business be very undervalued and management be unconcerned? (Successive fundraisings that dilute long term holders are a sign of that, for example).

I didn’t have the smarts to work it out but fortunately I know a man who does. Benjamin Graham, the father of value investing, worked this out 50 years ago in his book “The Intelligent Investor”.

I’ll quote him at length below, where he cuts the Gordian knot:

Benjamin Graham

“Why is it that insiders may have no interest of their own in following policies designed to provide an adequate dividend return and an adequate average market price? It is strange how little this point is understood. Insiders do not depend on dividends and market quotations to establish the practical value of their holdings. The value to them is measured by what they can do with the business when and if they want to do it. If they need a higher dividend to establish this value, they can raise the dividend. If the value is to be established by selling the business to some other company, or by recapitalising it, or by withdrawing unneeded cash assets, or by dissolving it as a holding concern, they can do any of these things at a time appropriate to themselves.

“Insiders never suffer loss from an unduly low market price which it is in their power to correct. If by any chance they should want to sell, they can and will always correct the situation first. In the meantime they may benefit from the opportunity to acquire more shares at a bargain level, or to pay gift (and prospective estate) taxes on a small valuation, or to save heavy surtaxes on larger dividend payments, which for them (sic) would mean only transferring money from one place where they control it into another.”

Seeing Machines share price

This is just an update following the unusual movements in the Seeing Machines share price.

Yesterday I contacted Ken Kroeger, Chief Executive of Seeing Machines, to try and find out if he or FinnCap knew of any reason for the recent falls. What he told me was: “Everyone’s view is that it’s Dixon’s selling of the original holding from the IPO”.

Hopefully, that should put some minds at rest. There is a natural tendency to jump to the wrong conclusions when trying to reason why a share price is so volatile, particularly as ‘buys’ are often reported as ‘sells’ with this share.

Certainly, the business is progressing and I don’t believe long term holders (investors) should be concerned – though day traders will have to have their wits about them.

Re. Fleet I’ve had it confirmed by Kroeger that Seeing Machines has “responded to a taxi tender in Dubai and expects a response in the next few weeks”. I also believe a similar process is underway with the Public Transport Authority in Dubai and that a response to that tender will likely follow along a similar timeframe.

The reason for the tendering process is that as government agencies they are required to put contracts out for tender.

In addition, See is also close to appointing 2 more distributors for the Fleet product, but they are not signed up yet.

As to how this week’s retail roadshow has been going, the feeling is that it has been very “positive”.

The writer holds shares in Seeing Machines.

Seeing Machines making progress

Seeing Machines produced a positive trading update today and I firmly believe that this company is very undervalued at its current price of 3.25p.

What was lacking was hard detail on contracts won in fleet and more detail on its share of the auto spin-off. Yet, if only half of the fleet trials convert and the auto spin-off goes ahead smoothly it should multi-bag by Christmas.

The company is making great strides, communication as to how well it is doing is increasing and I’m confident that positive news flow will drive the share price forward to reflect the growth in business.

Some of the following update is based on a very recent, exclusive interview with CEO Ken Kroeger. In it he was at pains to stress that he’s going to be making a big effort keeping investors informed about developments. For example, Seeing Machines is in the process of revamping its website and he explained: “What I am trying to do is create an ongoing, regular conversation with investors through our website. The Seeing Machines website will become the portal for investors and if they want to drill down into the companies they can.”

He’s slightly hamstrung by the fact that trials of such an innovative product take time to convert and confidentiality is an issue that often prevents disclosure.

I can see that the company is light years ahead of where it was only 3 years ago. It is now converting its computer vision based IP into commercial product and starting to promote these product brands/companies: CAT, Guardian, Auto, Nucoria etc.

Yet, that is probably of scant consolation for shareholders who have seen the share price sink over the past few months.

From my most recent conversation with him and today’s RNS, I’ve put together the following:


As the update explains, here Seeing Machines is moving “from a low-volume, high-value hardware business to an annuity and licensing-based revenue, high volume, lower unit cost product business model. Aside from the A$21.85m one-off Caterpillar licence fee that will boost revenues for the current financial year, there should also be recurring and growing revenues from product and services. These amounted to US$420,000 from Jan-March 2016 and are expected to grow in the quarter from April-June 2016.

That said, excluding the one-off revenue for this financial year Seeing Machines expects “other sales and service revenue to be lower than the last full year.”


This product became available to customers in September 2015, without a formal launch and minimal marketing. The salesforce, comprising mining experts, eventually had to be replaced by road transport experts.

Since then, it has formally launched an improved product (with front facing camera) at mining shows: 3 in the US and 2 in Australia under the ‘Guardian’ brand.

Following the launch of Guardian, it has built up a very solid pipeline of product assessments with potential customers, “over 30 around the world” according to Kroeger.

To give some idea of the volumes he’s talking about he added: “If we successfully converted all of those assessments we’d probably have somewhere around 120,000 – 150,000 vehicles in those fleets.” Moreover, some of them are apparently very big companies.

While he doesn’t expect a 100% conversion rate, he did reveal that these assessments are going “really well”. In addition, Caterpillar has also made its first fleet sale.

Kroeger also explained: “We are currently designing the second generation solution, again, with VSI and other external expertise. It will be lower cost and modular in design so that it can be sold as a complete stand-alone solution as it is now or it sold as a companion or add-on to an existing telematics solution by only using some of the module (camera, HMI, image processing and not the geo-positioning or telecommunications elements that could be present in an already-installed telematics service); again being lower cost as result.

“The logic in this approach is that we are working with large telematics companies to provide them an affordable technology that they can sell to their customers in high-volume at the lowest possible cost while still providing a direct to market, Guardian solution that is affordable to operators that require the complete technology solution due to not having a telematics solution in their vehicles or where the telematics solution is not compatible with ours. The telematics suppliers are seeing a lot of consolidation and are looking for means of differentiation. Our discussion with them are focused on turing them into  an additional, high volume, channel to market with their existing customers.”

For those seeking names, Kroeger added that he was currently working with 2 global telematics companies (“with over 1m connected trucks combined”) and that, if possible, he’d hope to provide more detail in the next Fleet update — which I expect to be in a couple of weeks.

Naturally, investors may be frustrated that he can’t put those names out immediately. Still, if he says it is happening you can be certain it is. What he can’t control is the marketing sensibilities of huge multinationals that prefer to be named at a time of their choosing.

There’s also been progress in Auto, Aerospace and Rail but I don’t have much to add to the RNS.

Understandably, the lack of detail is a frustration, made harder to bear by the downward moves in the share price. However, I’m very confident that continued patience on the part of investors will be amply rewarded over the next few months.

Of course, there is no substitute for your own research and investors should always take care not to invest more than they can afford to have tied up for a year.

The writer holds stock in Seeing Machines.

A global stock market crash is coming

Those of you tempted to believe that this week’s ‘Black Monday’ was an aberration should note that a huge, global stock market crash is likely to be with us pretty soon.

China is exporting a tidal wave of deflation to the US (an economy already in trouble) and as it hits things are going to get very bad indeed.

Forget the market soothsayers employed to talk up the prospects of the stock markets. Their analysis is wanting, their predictive powers non-existent.

You’d be better off following the analysis of the three men below. Compared to the vast majority of commentators they are market oracles. The message they have to impart is sobering.

Professor Steve Keen

No less a figure than economist Professor Steve Keen, who predicted the 2008-09 Great Recession, explained in an interview last year that the US was headed for a long period of stagnation. It is due to the build up of private debt (among both corporates and the general public).

Economies across the globe have been fuelled by the growth of private debt and, given the already high levels of debt, further growth cannot be sustained for very long. That is why the ‘recoveries’ in the US and UK are below trend and stop start.

Because of this reducing private debt not public debt is the issue that should be concentrating the minds of our politicians and economists. Hence QE for the people, which reduces this burden makes a lot more sense than QE for the banks.

Until now, all QE for the banks has done is:

  • encourage banks to continue speculating with cheap money from tax payers
  • created asset bubbles in areas such as property, stock markets and bonds where this money has been invested
  • encouraged ordinary investors to take on excessive risks in order to get decent returns
  • blinded the public to the way they are being fleeced by the political-financial elite that rule over us and finance this Ponzi scheme.

It is a pity that until the arrival of Jeremy Corbyn the Labour Party leadership failed to explain that the bank-bail out was the real reason the UK public debt ballooned. 

In any case, austerity in the present economic climate is madness, the wrong medicine at the wrong time.

Mitch Feierstein

Mitch Fierstein is the author of Planet Ponzi and a hedge fund manager. He knows the system from the inside out and is one of the sharpest commentators on the manipulation at the heart of our financial system. At the very least you should follow his twitter feed. The insights fly out of him like sparks from a Catherine Wheel.

Often only when going over his comments in detail do you become aware of the really deep knowledge he is imparting. For example, the most recent revision to US second quarter GDP, indicates that the US economy is doing fine growing fine with an annualised rate of growth of 3.7% revised up from 2.3%.

However, as Feierstein pointed out in a tweet yesterday (August 27th) US Gross Domestic Income (GDI) increased at an annual rate of just 0.6%.

This is what Shadowstats had to say on the matter in a note published yesterday: “Not only was that revision unbelievable, it also ran counter to the indication of stagnant economic activity seen in the initial estimate of second-quarter 2015 Gross Domestic Income (GDI), the theoretical and a practical equivalent to the GDP. The pattern of GDI stagnation for first-half 2015—not the faux surge in second-quarter GDP—is consistent with better quality monthly reporting seen in series such as industrial production and real retail sales.”

Albert Edwards

He’s been labelled a ‘bear’ by many bulls. Yet he accurately predicted that Chinese devaluation was coming months ago and that it would lead to a tidal wave of deflation heading West.

When it hits the US, it won’t be pretty. Forget cheaper gasoline prices and commodities. They aren’t much use when you’re out of a job because your economy has gone back into recession.

Okay, the US won’t raise interest rates. When it becomes clear that it is falling back into recession, QE4 may be unleashed. However, more bank bailouts (which is what QE is all about) won’t save the US economy from turning Japanese and stagnating.

This week, in a note published on August 27th, Edwards explained: “Despite deflation fears washing westward and US implied inflation expectations diving to levels not seen since the 2008 Great Recession, there remains a touching faith that the US is resilient enough to withstand further renminbi devaluation. And if it isn’t, why worry anyway, because QE4 will be around the corner. But let me be as clear as I can: the US authorities CANNOT eliminate the business cycle, however many QE helicopters they send up. The idea that developed economies will decouple from emerging market turmoil is as ridiculous as was the reverse in the first half of 2008. Remember Emerging Market and commodities had then de-coupled from the wests woes until they too also crashed. “

He also stated that we are already in a bear market. “While equities rebound investors are hoping things are quickly returning to normal. One of the many lessons from equity investing during Japan’s Lost Decade is that in a secular bear market hope is a killer. In a secular bear market hope should only be flirted with briefly during cyclical upturns, but it must be ruthlessly rejected as the cycle turns. In a secular bear market being wedded to hope destroys portfolios as the bear slashes to ribbons the hard-fought gains of the previous bull market. Gains that have taken years to accumulate are gone in months. One key measure we monitor informs us conclusively: we are now in a bear market.”

Time to be fearful

When men as smart as the 3 oracles above tell you that things are turning nasty it is time to listen. Far from being greedy it is now time to be fearful.

Certainly, it is time to take profits/hedge your winnings. Avoid leverage and take all money you need for the short term out of the market.

Even in a bearish environment physical gold and silver should do well and probably selective, innovative, small caps.

P.S. Please BBC put on a show like RT’s The Keiser Report and interview these 3 people. Their deep knowledge is desperately needed by a mainstream audience fed incoherent nonsense until now.