It's been a couple of weeks since I returned from New Orleans and I've had a chance to digest (or forget) much of what I heard there. One of the speakers noted that studies have shown that most people will forget 95% of what they heard within a few days. Fortunately, I found a write-up on the conference that provides a good overview of what was presented there.
Here are some of my own thoughts/impressions:
- The New Orleans Investment Conference was one of the best investment conferences that I have attended. Part of the reason for this may be because it costs a fair amount of money to get in, so I found that the other attendees I spoke with were pretty serious about what they were doing. The quality of the speakers at the conference was notable. In addition to the usual suspects who work the gold show circuit (Peter Grandich, Rick Rule, Doug Casey, etc.), there were some speakers who you rarely see at these shows, including Marc Faber, Jim Rogers and Dennis Gartman.
- There were fewer exhibitors at this show than most of the conferences I attend: PDAC and Cambridge House in Toronto, IIC in New York. I welcomed this as it gave the show a more intimate feel and it was not so overwhelming, especially lately as the size of the shows has been increasing. Over the course of 4-5 days, you had the opportunity to speak with almost every company present, if you wanted to do so. There were good opportunities to mingle with the exhibitors as well, since pretty much everybody was staying at the Marriott. The hotel bar was a good place to meet up with people at the end of the day in a more relaxed setting.
- I had the opportunity to spend some time with the GATA folks and went out to dinner with the entire GATA board as well as a couple of folks from Candente Resource Corp., a company that I have owned for a few years now. At dinner I sat across from Candente's CEO, Joey Freeze and her new VP of Operations. While Candente has been something of a laggard compared to some of the other juniors I own, I have never doubted that this team would work unflaggingly to create substantial shareholder value. Candente did a good job of getting their story out at the conference and I was not surprised to see the stock get a 21% bump on Friday, the day before the conference ended.
- One of the people I have gotten to know over the past couple of years, first on Internet message boards and then in person at conferences drove down from Toronto for the show. He has been focusing almost exclusively on Mexican gold and silver juniors for the past few years and has made several trips to mine sites to do some first-hand due diligence. He also authors articles for Resource World under the name "Mexico Mike". In his spare time, he hosts an investment discussion forum. Mike introduced me to the guys who run Baja Mining, who have a copper project in Baja that they are bringing to production. Haven't bought it yet, but it is on my watch list. Mike also is getting me in to a private placement for Bandera Gold. One of the advantages of getting to spend full-time in this area is getting to know people who have access to deals. Who you know can be just as significant for portfolio appreciation as what you know, I believe.
- New Orleans seemed to me like a city on the ropes. On the trip between the airport and the hotel, there was not much that you could see in the way of residual damage from Katrina. In the French Quarter, which did not get flooded, there are still quite a few shops that are boarded up. I presume that these were operated by people who left and have not returned. The city was noticably subdued compared to my previous visit there in 2000, not surprising considering they have lost a huge chunk of their populace. The folks that remain are trying to keep their "game face" on, but trying so hard that it smacks of desparation. The anger and resentment for their situation was almost palpable and just below the surface. Very sad. Hopefully the city will be spared from getting smacked again as they slowly recover. I look forward to returning next year.