Friday, December 30, 2011

Diary: SHFT

Very insightful post written about Shaft Sinkers on the Motley Fool for those thinking about grabbing the falling knife:
Without knowing the contract terms in detail it is impossible to know how much protection they offer. When this thread first appeared I nearly responded on the basis of many years working in the civils industry, but didn't as I knew little about the company in question.

However, the RNS fits the pattern of my expectations very well, so I would now make those points.
During the last 4 decades I've never known a specialist tunnelling / shaft sinking contractor that has survived more than a few years.
It is almost inevitable that such a company will hit unbelievably bad ground conditions, not anticipated by the contract, at some stage. The norm then has always been that they run out of money, regardless of their eventual contractual entitlements.
The end game is then usually receivership, with the contractor being bought from the receiver by a big contractor with plenty of cash, for almost nothing. When the contractual issues are eventually settled, the large contractor makes perhaps a 10,000% return on his purchase cost, and retains a small core tunnelling division of a size which doesn't ever threaten his survival.

Much the same situation has always prevailed with muckshift companies, for much the same reasons.

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