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Melissa June has been reporting on market-shaking news in the resource and mining investment sector for over five years and has been with the Investing News Network since 2008. She has written on a wide variety of topics, from managing political risk in the mining industry to manipulation in the... More
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  • How A Financial Planner Can Save You Money

    Many consumers are familiar with consulting an accountant come tax time or an investment advisor at their bank when contributing to a retirement or education savings account. But utilizing the services of a financial planner periodically can actually pay far bigger dividends over time. Consider doing so when faced with major life changes such as marriage, children, divorce or retirement. Once you have a complete financial plan in place it can be tweaked through the years as circumstances dictate.

    Be aware that there are many shades of the profession, also known as designations. Some FPs sell mutual funds, insurance and other financial products. Others operate on a fee-for-service or fee-based basis (less than two per cent of the profession), meaning you pay out-of-pocket for their advice. Still others will charge you nothing for a financial plan if you also invest through them.

    Read:How Can You Become Wealthy Just By Thinking Like a Wealthy?

    The most common designation in Canada is the very thorough CFP (Certified Financial Planner) but you will also see PFP (Personal Financial Planner), primarily held by those employed in banks, or RFP (the less common Registered Financial Planner). High net worth advisors may hold the CSWP (Chartered Strategic Wealth Professional), CIM (Chartered Investment Manager) or the highly regarded CFA (Chartered Financial Advisor).

    Many financial planners provide no specific investment advice, as in, "buy this fund and sell that one." Rather, they will help you organize and streamline your financial life, then pass you on to a recommended investment advisor who will invest your money in mutual funds, exchange-traded funds, stocks or bonds. Depending on the relationship, your planner may also receive payment from the investment advisors in the form of shared trailer fees and commissions.

    A planner who doesn't make investments for you (i.e. they aren't licensed to sell products) may, however, be skilled in evaluating risk, asset allocation, diversification and balance in your investments. They can tell clients if they have underperforming funds, too much risk or insufficient fixed income. Such a second opinion can be very valuable for those who are investing through RRSPs or Tax Free Savings Accounts (TFSAs) and aren't sure if they are going in the right direction.

    Don't discount this kind of advice. For one thing, advisors without an investment product to sell are more likely to provide independent advice. As well, a big reason consumers lose money is not because their investments are bad but because they are poorly diversified or their investment strategy is wrong-headed.

    One hugely valuable service a financial planner can provide is to help you structure your investments even if they don't offer specific investment recommendations. For example, a couple with a new family will have all kinds of things to consider about how to parcel out their savings among the various options such as an RRSP, a spousal account, TFSA, RESP, debt payments or perhaps a home purchase savings account.

    An FP can also help you make decisions about whether to use an RRSP to finance buying a home and how to income split with a spouse or children. And if everyone starting a business spent $2,000 to $2,500 to consult with a financial planner, I suspect there would be far fewer bankruptcies.

    There are many other areas of expertise that a financial planner may have such as wills and estates, philanthropy, debt management, tax and insurance. It all comes down to what you want. While all financial planners should have a broad understanding of the basics in the above areas, most will also have a stable of experts for those who need more in-depth service in specific areas.

    The first meeting with an FP, usually free, should cover the following topics - compensation (how much and by whom does the advisor get paid), the advisor's particular area of expertise, the cost for retaining outside experts and samples of financial plans which roughly match your situation.

    You will be amazed at how many important financial details are uncovered in the course of a thorough financial plan. If you have money problems or concerns (and who doesn't?), a complete plan should provide you with a variety of routes to take as you move through life. And you should easily save enough to offset the cost of the advice.

    Suggested Reading:

    World's top 20 richest people

    Is Gold Still A Good Option?

    Alison Griffiths' latest book is Count on Yourself: Take Charge of Your Money.

    Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

    Tags: XLF
    May 08 11:33 PM | Link | Comment!
  • Goldcorp Can Weather Price Drop, CEO Says

    Goldcorp (NYSE:GG,TSX:G), is sticking to its plan of increasing production while gradually bringing costs under control, the world's largest gold miner by current market value said Thursday in response to a negative earnings report.

    The Vancouver-based company posted a 35-percent drop in first-quarter profits compared to the year-ago quarter, with net income of $309 million, or 33 cents a share, compared to $479 million, or 51 cents a share.

    Goldcorp's share price, along with other gold mining majors, has taken a thumping in recent months, with many investors fleeing the sector as gold equities fail to keep pace with the price of the precious metal. That exodus accelerated when the gold price took a precipitous drop in April, tumbling 8.5 percent in one day and dropping through the $1,400-per-ounce support level. Though the gold price has recovered around half of that value to date, investors remain wary.

    Goldcorp's shares this year have slumped 20 percent which, while certainly cause for concern, is actually a better performance than rival Barrick Gold (NYSE:ABX,TSX:ABX), which has been massacred with a 44-percent decline, according to, which has tracked the stock declines of the major gold producers.

    On Thursday, Goldcorp CEO Chuck Jeannes faced criticism in a conference call where he defended the company's cost control strategy and said the recent drop in the gold price will not force the company to change course. As reported by Kitco:

    "Our conservatism over the past years and how we've financed our growth today provides us excellent flexibility in weathering lower gold prices," Jeannes said. "That flexibility means that we're not going to take knee-jerk reactions to a short term price move, instead, we've run sensitivities, like we always do, and we're looking at spending priorities to determine where we would make reductions or deferrals in our spending programs in the event of a lower sustained price.

    "Our balance sheet is in great shape with over $2 billion in cash and over $4 billion in available liquidity," he said.

    Kitco also reported Jeannes as saying that he does not believe that gold is entering a bear market, but rather, "a mid-cycle correction," and that the metal's long-term fundamentals remain in place. Still, he admitted in a news release that Goldcorp has implemented a contingency plan that will defer capital spending should deteriorating market conditions warrant.

    Goldcorp is retaining its 2013 production guidance of between 2.55 and 2.8 million ounces at cash costs of $1,000 to $1,100 an ounce, with an expected ramp up in production at Pueblo Viejo, the recently started gold mine in the Dominican Republic that it co-owns with Barrick.

    Other company news

    Kinross Gold (NYSE:KGC, TSX:K) said it will move into the feasibility stage of its massive Tasiast gold project in Mauritania, the Canadian company said in announcing the results of a prefeasibility study this week. According to the PFS, the expected initial capex for the mine is US$2.7 billion. The prefeas is based on a pit design capturing a resource of about 10 million gold ounces, with average annual gold production of 830,000 ounces per year. Using a gold price of $1,500 an ounce, the project has an estimated net present value of $1.1 billion and an 11 percent internal rate of return. The Financial Post called the IRR "meagre" considering the scale and high risks of the project, and noted the base case price is below the current price of bullion. Tasiast was the jewel in the crown of Kinross' takeover of Red Back Mining in 2010, but the project has been troublesome for the company, with Kinross taking a $3.2 billion writedown in February largely due to Tasiast.

    Junior company news

    Colorado Resources (TSXV:CXO) is junior mining's belle of the ball this week. The company's stock shot up 493 percent on the TSX Venture in the five days following its April 25 publication of the first two drill holes from its North Rok property in British Columbia. On Thursday alone the shares gained 28.99 percent. The highlight, from the first hole, was 0.63 percent copper and 0.85 grams per tonne of gold at 242 meters.

    Drill results from Metals Creek Resources (TSXV:MEK) returned three separate gold zones with the upper zone returning 3.91 g/t gold over 11.4 meters, including a higher grade interval of 8.7 g/t over 3 meters. The 8-hole drill program tested targets in the Thomas Ogden Zone of the Ogden Gold Project near Timmins, Ontario. Metals Creek has a 50/50 joint venture with Goldcorp to explore the property, including the former Naybob gold mine.

    Roxgold (TSXV:ROG) reported results from metallurgical drilling at the Yaramoko permit in Burkina Faso. Results include 29.73 grams per tonne (gpt) gold over 28.8 meters, and 27.62 gpt gold over 7.3 meters.

    Integra Gold (TSXV:ICG) completed the first phase of metallurgical testing at its Lamaque gold project in Val d'Or, Québec. "Optimized flow sheets involving gravity separation followed by direct cyanidation indicates overall gold recovery of up to 92% for the South Cluster samples and up to 98% for the North Cluster samples," Integra Gold said in a news release.

    Gold price stumbles then corrects

    Gold investors had another nasty scare on Wednesday when bullion free-fell 2.2 percent due to investor jitters about a policy statement due out by the Federal Open Market Committe of the US Federal Reserve, which sets US monetary policy. However, the bearish sentiment changed when the FOMC did not indicate it would end its bond-buying program known as quantitative easing anytime soon. Previous pronouncements in that direction have caused gold to fall.

    On Thursday gold was up due to an announcement from the European Central Bank that it would shave a quarter-percentage-point off its key interest rate. Bullion was also helped by a decline of European manufacturing activity in April. At the close in New York, spot gold was up $9.90 to $1,468.50 an ounce, while gold futures for July were up $21.10 to $1,467.30.

    Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

    May 08 11:32 PM | Link | Comment!
  • Ameresco: Here's What Investors Need To Know Before Earnings

    Ameresco (NYSE:AMRC) will report earnings before markets open on Thursday, May 9th. Ameresco Inc. is an integrated electric energy corporation. The Company supplies a range of energy solutions, including energy cogeneration, hydro electric, and renewable energy facilities.

    Here is your Cheat Sheet to Ameresco Earnings:

    Earnings Expectations: Analysts expect earnings of $0.03 per share on revenues of $126.67 million. Currently, the company's P/E ratio stands at 17.82.

    Analyst Trends:

    Analysts have a more negative outlook for the company's next-quarter performance. Over the past three months, the average estimate for next quarter's earnings has fallen from a profit of $0.13 to a profit $0.1. For the current year, the average estimate is a profit of $0.43, which is worse than the estimate ninety days ago.

    Earnings Trends:

    Here's how Ameresco has been performing on an annual basis:

    Fiscal Year






    Revenue($) in millions






    Diluted EPS($)






    Next, our CHEAT SHEET investing framework asks us to drill down to the recent quarterly data:


    Dec. 31, 2011

    Mar. 31, 2012

    Jun. 30, 2012

    Sep. 30, 2012

    Dec. 31, 2012

    Revenue($) in millions






    Diluted EPS($)






    Past Performance:
    Ameresco has missed analyst estimates 3 times in the past four quarters. Shareholders could expect a bust if the company misses estimates.

    "E = Earnings Are Increasing Quarter-Over-Quarter" is a core component of our successful CHEAT SHEET investing framework. Don't waste another minute - click here to discover our CHEAT SHEET stock picks now!

    (Company fundamentals provided by Xignite Financials. Email any earnings discrepancies to earnings [at]

    Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

    May 08 11:30 PM | Link | Comment!
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