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Tag Archives: $CCJ

Japan vs China Feud Will Secure Nuclear

Long ago, when I first purchased CCJ, in the midst of a nuclear reactor melting down on a coastline in the Pacific, I told you that there was more to this than the panic being cultivated by professional fire-alarm pullers.

And there were two primary reasons at that time which I gave. The first, and most obvious, of course, was that one does not just restructure the load production of a country’s power grid over night. Watching Japan struggle with prices as they import the coal needed to replace that energy has been an exercise in this concept.

Across the planet, other nations that declared their intentions to wean off nuclear energy are also realizing how difficult this task will actually be.

But the other main reason I gave why Japan, specifically, would not be divesting itself of nuclear assets was not economical. It was military.

Japan’s hardship is that it is an island nation with weak natural resources. And Her ancestral rival is a massive half a continent, sporting more than one billion people and rich natural resources just a short ship ride away.

In a peace time environment, Japan may have taken her sweet time (and much wasted money and hardship) restarting the nuclear energy program. The Japanese are a notoriously conservative culture, and if you have ever worked with a Japanese company, you know just what I mean by that.

But even Japan, with her slow, careful processions, has limits of patience.

Japan’s greatest threat is a blockade of supply routes. A steady flow of resources into the country is necessary to maintain it. These supply routes, not unlike the UK’s in World War 2, would prove a great headache and cause of domestic problems in a military conflict.

It’s bad enough importing food, goods, raw materials, munitions, etcetera. And having your nations power grid at the mercy of getting boats past enemy naval fleets is just one extra pitfall that Japanese military leadership will not want to deal with.

This was one of the main reasons Japan decided on the nuclear path years ago to begin with. A nuclear reactor carries enough fuel both active and in storage to supply full power for around 3 years.

Compare that to a coal plant, which under full load can require a delivery of about 15,000 tons of fuel a day. This approach requires a constant flow of fuel and also very large holding sites, both of which become attractive and hard to defend targets in wartime.

I bring this up because just recently, Japan’s leadership has reaffirmed the country’s commitment to safe nuclear power. A recent report from Cameco management issued guidance of a sizable fraction of Japan’s total nuclear assets beginning to come back online. This same report detailed that Cameco has observed Japan to be net buyers of nuclear fuel at this point in time.

This should be seen as reducing the uncertainty surrounding Japan’s fuel assets. One of the many worries supplying downward pressure on nuclear spot price has been that Japanese utilities may begin selling off unused fuel. This does not seem to be the case.

In the same presentation, Cameco also reassured audience members that Cameco will not be entering into any long term fuel contracts at these prices, which Cameco considers unreasonable. They are waiting for the market to set rates higher, and have instead dedicated themselves to shoring up the balance sheet and controlling costs to bide the time.

For the moment, the uranium market remains cold. But Cameco is committed to outlasting the cold spell. I remain very excited in the prospects of CCJ, and it remains my largest position at this time.

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HCLP Up Another 4% Today

Just felt you should know HCLP is continuing its run this morning…

Not much else happening though. Silver just took a second blow to the knee, and CCJ is circling the drain.

The CCJ melancholy is a three year recurring melodrama of such bad performance, I’d get up and leave my box if I didn’t own the theatre.

This is a part of the dance, which plays itself out over and over and over again.

Dispair at the state of nuclear power mixed with cowardly shareholders causes a thirty percent flush out, from which data releases eventually overcome and show to be unfounded, until optimism for a resolution of the nuclear energy concerns pushes us back to the top of the range from where the whole, trashy show can get started again.

Burlesque variety of performances have better plot lines than this…

The last round of CCJ earningst that were released showed that realized prices for CCJ’s uranium actually increased year over year, at the same time “market prices” plunged from $50 per lb to the $36 price they command today.

Until I see some data suggesting that Cameco is actually being affected by the doldrums of the rest of the nuclear energy sector, I have no reason to take any of this seriously.

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Prices For Cameco’s Uranium Went Up…

Read this closely:

On an adjusted basis, our earnings this quarter were $61 million ($0.15 per share diluted) compared to $31 million ($0.08 per share diluted) (see non-IFRS measure) in the second quarter of 2012, mainly due to:

•higher earnings from our uranium business based on higher realized prices and increased sales volumes

…(other reasons listed)

This may be all I needed to see. The uranium market, being a low volume, old school brokerage operation, is an insane place. Opague as concrete, and getting quotes isn’t much different than trying to swim through said material.

I have been a little concerned, since uranium prices in the main broker-dealer I follow have just been collapsing.

But URA seems to have bottomed, and indicated prices as increasing. So what’s real?

Well, I can assure you, I don’t care what “uranium prices” are “really” doing. Because Cameco is living in CCJ land, where prices are higher. Lower uranium bids seem to be predominantly an phenomenon effecting small, POS miners.

Sure, you can buy long term uranium contracts really cheap from a URRE, a UEC, or a USU. You can also take on the very real counterparty risk that they won’t be around in another two years to make good on those contracts.

But if you don’t feel like taking long gambles on companies scrambling into deadend, horrible supply deals to stave off bankruptcy, you’re going to pay real rates to CCJ.

I still need to look through their filing closely – there were a few things that stuck out to me briefly as mild concerns, when I did a once over. They still have a ton of currency hedges in place, that probably expose them to all sorts of potential losses, and I’m curious about how the NUKEM deal is working out.

Also, the company has promised to cut expenses by 10%. This is just one of many elements that bares scrutiny and inspection.

But the fact that Cameco could sell uranium for higher prices in this market is astounding.

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Lingering Questions On The Uranium Market

The uranium space ripped to the upside today. It was led by URA as the specter of a uranium price bottom led speculators into the miners. Several of the smaller names doubled, and even Cameco experienced a 3% upside day.

The actual story is decidedly more complicated.

Uranium prices at a few of the brokers I keep tabs on have actually begun to crack lower. The reports are that 8 separate utilities arranged deals at low prices last week and threats of funding and fears of even lower offers led the small names to cave into demands and sign contracts.

This is why I have avoided small cap uranium miners, like foreigners in France around 1349.

What comes next depends. Fears surrounding Japanese policy could be taking root. If those are grounded, then we may have quite a bit of trouble on our hands. Any such trouble would be viewed, from my perspective, as a buying opportunity. However, a rehash into the $10-20’s would not be out of the question. At current demand and sales, I put CCJ at $13, roughly.

However, if Cameco and the other miners can band together, they may be able to strike back against the weak hands that are presently caving. Cameco is in the distinct advantage of controlling more than 20% of the global market. If they can leverage themselves, banding together some of the smaller survivors, they could create a strong floor, devouring the weak in the process at rock bottom prices.

Longer term, the uranium market remains ripe for picking. There are several trends I am seeing that could lead grid demand to pick up 10-20% just here at home, at minimum, over the next one to two decades, and no real positive supply growth to see yet. Couple that with continued demands from environmentally conscious politics to trend away carbon emitting fuels and the necessity of alternative energies like wind or solar to be supplemented with constant energy sources and a build out in nuclear power is an obvious go to.

Thus far, there is no word on Russia extending the HEU agreement. The moment will be dominated by Japan. The decade won’t care about Japan at all.

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A Quick Review Of Nuclear Power And Cameco

It’s been long enough that I’d say I actually need to give an introduction and background here.

I’ve owned Cameco since Fukushima; literally, I bought my first round of shares at $29 while the reactor was melting down. Since then, I’ve built a position, by averaging in and trading rips, that has a cost average around $21.

My belief was that, at the time, commitments to roll back nuclear power facilities were vastly overconfident (if not totally unrealistic) and would ultimately end in retraction. So far, I haven’t seen anything to make me change my views on this. I also felt that the dangers of nuclear power and the consequences of the Japan problem were being overblown. Nuclear accidents have traditionally been forecast to be, literally, millions of times worse than they actually are.

Recent developments in the space include:

1) Japan is prepping 4 more reactors to reopen, while creating the review process to speed things up a bit
2) Tokyo Electric is getting impatient, using a subsidiary of itself to start pushing back against government agency claims that any of its reactors lie on fault lines
3) China is ramping up construction of power plants
4) They’ve also discovered Fukushima is leaking radioactive water – could stiffen the process back up
5) The forced shut down is starting to do its damage to nuclear power companies – Japan Atomic Power, for instance, will be forced into a hard bankruptcy shortly if they can’t get operations up and running or, worse, are forced to decommission any of their three reactors. This would flood the market with fire sale priced uranium fuel
6) Russia has not expressed any desire so far to extend the HEU (Megatons for Megawatts) agreement; it currently stands at over 95% completed. Although interestingly enough, Executive Order 13617 (which floods Russia with money for decommissioning nuclear weapons for fuel) has been extended by the Obama Administration under emergency decree. I’d be more inclined to think that’s an indication a new agreement is being drafted, if I didn’t know how much politicians like to fling slush fund money around to friends and enemies alike. For the moment, I’m predisposed to believing Putin will not be crafting a new agreement

Altogether, the ability of the uranium market to shore itself up depends on Japan for now. There is a visible push to get the reactors up and running, and elements of the government seem at least partially favorable to it. For the last two years, the uranium market has been frozen, as the fuel miners and electricity producers sat in a stalemate, waiting to see what would happen next.

We’re about to find out, I think.

If Japan can successfully navigate back to nuclear power, it would thaw the uranium space, encouraging power companies that have been so far waiting to see if nuclear opposition would gain more traction, or if Japan’s unspent fuel would be up for sale, back to the markets to bring their fuel cycles up to speed.

If not, Japan power companies will likely start to arrest, plunging the entire sector back into violent fluctuations. For this reason I am exclusively a holder of CCJ, and no others, because they are too small and will have trouble surviving if everything doesn’t pan out just right. This does worry me, as Japanese culture is notoriously slow and patient, almost to a fault. It is not completely out of the question that they let their power companies crash. I simply have to hope that they don’t.

Long term, the sector is ripe, with lots of new demand, and supply concerns at current production targets. However, any disruptions could easily drag out the recovery another few years.

CCJ is greater than 20% of my account.

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First Rough Day In A While

Alright, so today was very nasty for me. RGR, CCJ, and BAS all cramped up, and are busy drowning in the pool. I can guess why CCJ is having trouble – their earnings sucked wind. But RGR and BAS are something of an enigma. RGR has no news pushin git, and the only thing that happened to BAS was it caught a downgrade from some analyst.

Of course, all three names are up so much in the last month it could just be some profit taking. CCJ is pushing back below those magically colored lines, which I have learned is the ultimate arbiter of reality. Ergo, it must be in serious trouble…

Anyway, throw in the price of silver with those two and this was a bad day. The first bad day I’ve had since November or October.

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