Canned Fruit, Concrete & Carats: Vancouver Small Cap Conference 2013 Review

What do canned tomatoes, concrete and multi-carat diamonds have in common? They were among the investing opportunities discussed at this year’s Small Cap Conference in Vancouver.

The Small Cap Conference has traditionally been a smaller sized conference that provides investors the opportunity to learn about investing in small cap companies.  In keeping with previous conferences, the event was held in the eventing and structure of this year’s conference featured keynote speakers and company presentations.

This year, Ryan Irvine (Keystone Financial) and Brent Todd (Canaccord Genuity Wealth Management) both returned as keynote speakers and they discussed how they assess investing opportunities with small cap companies.  In addition, Ryan Glasser (Orefront Communications/Vadar) provided an update on the equity financing research tool Vadar one year after its roll out.

Keynote speakers

Getting a perspective from seasoned investors is a great way to put company presentations into context.  The two speakers did a great job of focusing in on some key points for attendees to pay attention to when thinking about investing in small cap companies.

Ryan Irvine

As was his usual style, Ryan Irvine provided a great context for investors looking to learn about and understand investing in small caps from a value-based perspective.  His read on the opportunities in the small cap space was that investing opportunities exist but they will be harder to spot given significant run up in small cap stocks over the past year.  Even so, one of the important tips offered by Ryan Irvine was to focus on the earnings per share when looking at a small cap company.  Growth in revenue is important but investors should not forget to be clear on what the shareholder gets out of a company’s revenues.  Some of the companies Irvine mentioned were High Arctic Energy Services (TSE:HWO), Parex Resources (TSE:PXT) and Enterprise Group (TSE:E)

Brent Todd

The presentation by Brent Todd echoed his sentiments from last year’s conference.  Specifically, he mentioned that investors sitting on the sidelines are only going to be there for so long given the current low interest rate environment. Those investors that have jumped into the markets over the past year, according to Todd, have probably had a decent run.  Some of the names quoted by Todd last year, such as WestJet or Rifco, however, have done more than “decently” since the last conference.  The key take-home messages from Todd’s presentation were that participation in the markets is required to capitalize on the gains.  Clearly there are real risks of financial loss when investing, however there also are positive “portfolio changing” opportunities to be found.   The key is to understand that it is possible to take some risk to make the reward – however large or small those rewards may be.  Names of interest mentioned by Brent Todd included Rifco(CVE:RFC) and Questor Technology (CVE:QST).

Company Presentations

This year’s company presentations represented an interesting mix of sectors and companies.  On the whole, the presentations were interesting and the speakers delivered a good portrait of their respective companies.

In all, 7 companies (listed below) presented and provided attendees with an overview of what their companies do, and what the investment opportunities and risks were in their business.

  • Greenstar Agricultural Corporation
  • CEMATRIX Corporation
  • Rock Energy Inc
  • VMS Ventures & North American Nickel
  • Diamcor Mining Inc.
  • Iplayco Corporation Ltd

Having the two keynotes precede the company presentations was nice as it allowed attendees to listen out for the “bottom line” to the investor in the company’s pitch.

Overall Impressions

This year there might be a signal that the appetite of retail investors for investing in the markets has improved – even over and above the lure of free food.

Official attendance figures came in slightly under 200 attendees – for those that came in late though, free seats were a rare commodity.  While modest in size, this year’s crowd seemed more enthusiastic to stick around than last year’s.  Equally impressive was that the attendees made the decision to come out on a Tuesday evening (sorry cheap movie night).

Numbers aside, it was the small, indirect measures of the crowd sentiment that were of particular interest.  In previous years the refreshment table was the center of attention at break time however this year it seemed like more individuals opted to chat with the exhibitors rather than fight the mob for a free snack.  In addition, the gift cards chosen (in order) by the winners were from Home Depot, Canadian Tire, Tim Horton’s and The Keg.

If these small measures are any indicator, it looks like investors are more focused on building winners rather than sitting back and celebrating them.

To learn more about upcoming conferences, you can check out the Small Cap Conference website or check out our investor education/conference calendar here.

2 comments

  1. Murray Nightingale

    What canned fruit company was mentioned?

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