Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Hard Assets 06: San Francisco

I had previously written about the San Francisco Money Show, which is held each fall at the downtown San Francisco Marriott Hotel. There is a second investment conference that is held each year at the same hotel. This year the theme is "Hard Assets". While the carnival atmosphere of the Money Show is retained at this show, the subject matter usually focuses on precious metals, mining, oil, and gas.

Many of the exhibitors in the investment conference are foreign mining companies. These are largely listed on the Canadian stock exchanges, most notably the Toronto Stock Exchange (the TSX). Unfortunately, a large share of these stocks are penny stocks of questionable quality. For a few years, there were a lot of dotcom exhibitors, and even mining companies that actually became dotcoms to feed off of the associated hype. This came at a time when the prices for gold, oil, and other commodities were depressed.

Among the speakers at the conference, one stands out among the crowd: James Dines. This flamboyant individual has been touting something every year since about the late 1960s, whether it is gold, dotcom stocks, or his current favorite, uranium. Mr. Dines is the publisher of The Dines Letter, and the author of the book Mass Psychology. I haven't had the opportunity to read the latter, though. His booth is typically rimmed by half a dozen blond, blue-eyed assistants that could politely be referred to as bimbos. And you wouldn't expect anything less from a man whose motto is "Always travel first class, because if you don't, your heirs will!" At any rate, his seminar is usually well attended and very entertaining, to say the least.

Just like at the Money Show, this investment conference also offers an array of freebies. Over the years I've been able to snag several tote bags, caps, and keychains. I have one titanium keychain that was offered by a titanium mining company, and I have another one that includes a flashlight and looks like a miniature miner's hat. Hard Assets '06 is held November 26-27 this year.


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