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As I watched shares of Great Panther Silver (AMEX: GPL ) take a bit of a dive Tuesday -- after a sharply negative blog post crossed the wires replete with allegations and insinuations -- I realized this was one of those key moments when retail investors would benefit from a clear and thorough restatement of the factual record.
As of this writing, the blog post in question has been taken down (here is the original link). Because truth matters, I am proceeding with my rebuttal nonetheless.
In Part 1 of my rebuttal, I offered investors a more comprehensive understanding of the company's underlying story than that depicted in the aforementioned post. Here in Part 2, I will directly challenge the content of that now-stricken blog post.
First cracks in the foundation of an allegation
The piece sought to spin a tale of Great Panther Silver as some sort of pump-and-dump vehicle, but nothing could be further from the truth. Let's begin with the fact that there was no dump!
In his post, the blogger alleged that Great Panther Silver executive chairman Kaare Foy had sold "all his 200,000 shares" in the company. Oddly, the source he linked to was a discussion-board post rather than an actual filing. I spoke directly with Foy on Tuesday, and he indicated that his "direct personal holdings in Great Panther actually increased at that time." He also added that he "currently owns more shares in Great Panther than he did a year ago." What the blogger in question might have discovered through a more thorough examination of the public record, as Foy avows, is that all of the share sales cited were for shares held indirectly by Foy's investment company and were therefore wholly unrelated to his direct personal holdings in the company.
Great Panther CEO Robert Archer, meanwhile, reiterated to me Tuesday that he presently owns or controls about 1.55 million shares of Great Panther.
You can't have a pump-and-dump without a dump, and you can't keep an allegation afloat once a crack of that size has been revealed. In the interest of setting entire record straight, though, let's continue to scrutinize the content from this post that Bob Archer called "so full of holes that it makes the Titanic look airtight."
Oh, here's another one
The blogger also offered a truly ludicrous characterization of Great Panther Silver's price history with the stock supported by hype only and then a collapse after the hype died. To reveal the uninformed nature of that characterization of Great Panther's prior price performance, I offer this single piece of visual evidence. This is a five-year chart showing the price performance of Great Panther Silver, alongside that of fellow Mexican silver producers Fortuna Silver, Endeavour Silver, Impact Silver, and First Majestic Silver.
Source: Yahoo! Finance.
Now, what was it that caused Great Panther's stock to drop back into penny-stock range? Was it really that the "hype died down," or could it have had a little something to do with the commodity and precious-metals correction of a lifetime? You be the judge.
Nope … not quite right, either
The blogger then attempted to slam Great Panther's management for allegedly hiring a rather notorious stock promoter. But there's just one problem (well, two actually -- see below): The company did not hire him. As one of the blogger's own linked references will attest, the promoter in question was contracted by another firm called B&D Capital that Great Panther had turned to for help getting its story to the public after that brutal industrywide stock collapse. While of course some measure of responsibility always remains with a company's CEO, a fair assessment of the facts would reveal that, as CEO Archer attests:
None of us knew of or had any prior dealings with Mr. Lebed. He was referred to B&D by a broker in New York as being someone who could increase our exposure and trading volume. At the time, we were trying to maintain a "reasonable" share price, coming out of the depths of the crash, to do a financing and figured it was worth a try. At the time, we had no knowledge of Mr. Lebed's unorthodox methodologies.
It is very important to note that B&D Capital contracted Lebed for only a single, one-month contract! Furthermore -- and here comes problem No. 2 -- this was during September 2009, and not 2010 as the blogger alleged! Because the blogger attempted to connect Great Panther's late-2010 stock surge to that particular one-month contract, the fact that he misstated the timing by a full year represents a fatal error that causes his entire thesis to take on water and sink.
So just what is a pump-and-dump, without the pump or the dump? Hmmm … sounds like a whole lot of nothing to me!
Just when you think you couldn't have any more holes in the piece and still have words left on the screen, they just keep coming. The blogger mischaracterized Great Panther as a high-cost high-leverage silver company. In fact, quite the opposite is true as Great Panther has long been viewed as an impressively low-cost silver producer, particularly for a producer of its humble scale and rapid production growth. The miner achieved a 2010 cash cost of $7.43 per ounce. Its 2009 cash cost came in at $5.58 per ounce; comfortably situated among the stable of low-cost producers. That same year, major producer Pan American Silver (Nasdaq: PAAS ) achieved a cost of $5.53 per ounce. Fellow low-cost growth sensation First Majestic Silver (NYSE: AG ) posted a 2009 cash cost of $5.61.
I believe I have poked enough gaping holes in that recent blog post -- which sought to sling a heap of negativity toward Great Panther Silver -- to render a rebuttal of the remaining insinuations totally redundant. Rather than debunking each individual effort to assail the biographical record of Great Panther's principles, I will close with the most solid source of reassurance that investors could ever seek: the unabashed praise of a direct competitor.
Not only had Endeavour Silver (NYSE: EXK ) CEO Bradford Cooke already stated during this 2010 interview that he "admire[s] the work that Bob Archer has done at Great Panther," but on Tuesday Endeavour's VP for corporate communications -- Hugh Clarke -- proved eager to go on the record with a strong statement of support for Archer to counteract those baseless insinuations. Clarke affirmed what I've known to be true since I first became a Great Panther shareholder many years ago: that Archer is "a good man, an honest man … a man of upstanding character."
I look forward to further increasing my own personal stake in Great Panther Silver if even a sliver of this recent share-price retreat remains intact beyond my requisite waiting period. I remain a thoroughly delighted shareholder of multiple high-quality silver producers -- most notably Great Panther, Endeavour Silver, Silver Wheaton (NYSE: SLW ) , Alexco Resource (AMEX: AXU ) , and silver-rich gold producer AuRico Gold (NYSE: AUQ ) . I intend to hold these positions like a fortress throughout the remainder of this secular bull market for precious metals. There is simply no way that a spurious attack replete with unsubstantiated allegations will separate this Fool from any of his core precious-metal holdings. I've already held strong through that ridiculous market correction depicted in the chart above … I'm not going anywhere.