The Most Precious Metal

Written By Nick Hodge

Posted August 31, 2011

Your editor is no stranger to the barn.

Growing up, I fed our cattle, horses, and fowl on a regular basis.

Hay was stacked on pallets to the ceiling; dry feed sealed off in tin trash cans, water drawn from its own well down in the woods…

Sometimes I’d sneak a cigarette down there if no one was around. This was all before I’d turned 16.

I’ll spare you the work ethic lessons I learned. But I will say that to this day, I don’t trust a man who’s never labored.

Make Hay

I’ve also thrown a few bales in my day.

I’d go with my grandfather to my uncle’s much larger farm in Southern Delaware (where deer and Amish far outnumber everyone else) to cut, dry, and stack a few acres.

The thinking was this: Gas for the drive and the tractor along with family labor was cheaper than buying hay at $2.00 or, worse, $3.00 a bale at home in Maryland.

We’d drive home with the Silverado’s leaf springs flat every time.

This week, I read Texas farmers were paying $240 per ton to get hay delivered from Nebraska. That works out to $6.00 per bale from an average 40-bale ton — a 100%+ increase from my farm days more than a decade ago.

Hay farmers in the breadbasket are making a killing at the expense of ranchers from drought-stricken Texas and Oklahoma.

A simple twist of fate has put some farmers higher on the hog.

Out of the Field, into the Field

It’s been a while since I’ve baled hay, but I still spend plenty of time in the field. In fact, I’m lined up for an annual dove hunt this weekend. But that’s not really the field I’m talking about…

Instead, I spend a lot of time investigating companies, looking at products, meeting with management, and taking tours.

I learned early on that working smart was much more productive (and profitable) than working hard. And ever since I left the small town, I’ve been doing just that.

Just as my grandfather used to keep a handwritten notebook of hay prices and quality from different farms in the area, I’ve adapted a similar strategy for stocks.

He didn’t know and track all the farms in the country — just the ones that were relevant to him. That’s what I’ve found works best with stocks.

I don’t know them all. I just know a handful better than anyone else.

It’s a hands-on approach. And it’s the only way to make good — buy-a-car-with-a-single-trade good — money in an otherwise bank- and algorithm-dominated market.

In less than a decade (I’m still a few years away from 30), I’ve been able to put together quite the cadre of companies and contacts using this approach.

And it’s paid off quite well for me and my readers.

Most recently, I was invited to take a tour of a brand-new state-of-the-art metallurgical facility in New England.

The company that owns it (and many more like it in multiple states) is about to corner a section of the rare metals market.

They have one metal alloy that can bond to uranium fuel pellets making nuclear energy both safer and more efficient. It can add 18 to 20 days onto the operating schedule of standard uranium fuel.

To continue the allegory of the alfalfa, it’s like getting 60 bales per ton instead of 40. Only the bales cost millions of dollars instead of six dollars.

They can also cast precision parts — something once thought impossible — for the computer, aerospace, and defense industries.

Plus the company owns several hectares of the best rare metal mining land in the world.

I don’t want to tell you about it though. I want to show you. Which is why I went there in the first place — and toted my HD camera along…

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Call it like you see it,

Nick Hodge

Nick Hodge
Editor, Energy and Capital

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