That is, of course, the title of one of the classic submarine movies1, but it's also a fitting description of the current investor relations tack of Alloy Steel International (OTC BB: AYSI.OB): as the company's stock price has dived, the company has refrained from releasing any information since its last 10-Q. Over the last few weeks, I tried contacting the company's CEO (who has designated himself the investor relations contact) via the company's website and then via his company e-mail address. After no luck, I trying calling him. Alloy Steel's receptionist in Malaga mentioned he was traveling overseas and, assuming he hadn't had a chance to check his company e-mail address, gave me his personal e-mail address and suggested I try him there. Again, no response. This week, after calling the company's headquarters again and learning that the CEO was again traveling overseas, I sent him the following message:
I understand from Melanie in your Malaga office that you are traveling overseas again. Given your heavy travel schedule and extensive responsibilities, I imagine you must have little time to answer questions from investors. Nevertheless, you have designated yourself as the investor relations contact for your company. Have you considered delegating this role to someone who might have the time to respond to an occasional investor e-mail or phone call?
And received the following response:
As a result of the market volatility and the short sellers that have been short selling our stock the board has decided to only release information through the normal reporting channels there will be no separate reports to any investor who we have no record of in our share register.
CEO Alloy Steel Int.
Sent via BlackBerry® from Vodafone
This response didn't inspire a lot of confidence in the company's current situation. I can understand the reluctance to communicate with an individual shareholder on Reg FD grounds, but if Mr. Kostecki believes that the market's opinion of his company's prospects is unjustly negative, the best way to counter that would be to release information through "normal reporting channels" proving it wrong. For example, if the company picked up a major order recently, or an order in a new market, it could announce that via an 8-K (as it has done in the past). Since Alloy Steel hasn't released any such updates this year, it's rational for market participants to assume that it has no good news to report.
Judging from the CEO's e-mail above, the break-even numbers it reported last quarter, and its high inventory levels over the last two quarters, my guess is that it will post a loss for the quarter that ended on March 31st.
I was going to end this post on a positive note, by including a link to Goldman Sachs chief economist Jim O'Neil's column in the Financial Times Thursday, in which he mentioned he had revised upward his growth estimates for China's economy this year and next. If O'Neil's estimates come to pass, that would be good news going forward for mining companies, and, by extension, for Alloy Steel. Unfortunately, after 20 minutes of trying, I was unable to find a link to O'Neil's column using the Financial Times website's search feature.
1The all time champ of submarine movies is Das Boot, in my opinion.