News Archive

Oskisko Metals hopeful of growing zinc trend

Among the highlights, one drill hole intersected 11.4m grading 7.74% zinc, 2.42% lead, 0.48% copper, 79.34g/t silver and 0.24g/t gold, in a previously unrecognised massive sulphide extension of the deposit.

The company said the results were of “particular importance”.

Micromine setting the standard in Pit Optimisation

Micromine setting the standard in Pit Optimisation…

Amerigo rising

Amerigo rising

Colluli distinguishes Danakali

Colluli distinguishes Danakali

Berenguela back on world copper map

Berenguela back on world copper map

RESOURCEStocks QA: Cobalt Blue's Joe Kaderavek

RESOURCEStocks QA: Cobalt Blue’s Joe Kaderavek

Widely-spaced historical intercepts were not previously interpreted as one continuous zone but the results suggested the thicker massive sulphide trend extended over a lateral strike length of 420m, with the potential to extend the deposit boundary further, the company said.

It is aiming to develop two mining camps, consolidating 63,000ha in New Brunswick’s Bathurst Mining Camp and aiming to complete its Pine Point acquisition this quarter, to feed into a central concentrator.

Osisko Mining (CN:OSK) and Osisko Gold Royalties (CN:OR) are major shareholders of the company, which formed in June last year when the former Bowmore Exploration started acquired holdings in New Brunswick.

Osisko Metals shares closed down almost 5% to C78c, well below a 52-week peak reached in August of $1.74.

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Mining’s tech paradox

Disruption of capital markets is not new for miners and explorers. They’ve seen Black Mondays, dotcom booms, and a GFC, just lately, so bongs and Bitcoins shouldn’t come as too much of a shock.

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Soaring agave prices give Mexican tequila makers a headache

AMATITAN, Mexico (Reuters) – In the heartland of the tequila industry, in Mexico’s western state of Jalisco, a worsening shortage of agave caused by mounting demand for the liquor from New York to Tokyo has many producers worried.

The price of Agave tequilana, the blue-tinged, spikey-leaved succulent used to make the alcoholic drink, has risen six-fold in the past two years, squeezing smaller distillers’ margins and leading to concerns that shortages could hit even the larger players.

In front of a huge metal oven that cooks agave for tequila, one farmer near the town of Amatitan said he had been forced to use young plants to compensate for the shortage of fully grown agave, which take seven to eight years to reach maturity.

He asked not to be identified because he did not want his clients to know he was using immature plants.

The younger plants produce less tequila, meaning more plants have to be pulled up early from a limited supply – creating a downward spiral.

“They are using four-year-old plants because there aren’t any others. I can guarantee it because I have sold them,” said Marco Polo Magdaleno, a worried grower in Guanajuato, one of the states allowed to produce tequila according to strict denomination of origin rules.

More than a dozen tequila industry experts interviewed by Reuters said that the early harvesting will mean the shortage is even worse in 2018.

Already, the 17.7 million blue agaves planted in 2011 in Mexico for use this year fall far short of the 42 million the industry needs to supply 140 registered companies, according to figures from the Tequila Regulatory Council (CRT) and the National Tequila Industry Chamber (CNIT).

The shortages are likely to continue until 2021, as improved planting strategies take years to bear fruit, according to producers.

The result is agave prices at 22 pesos ($1.18) per kilo – up from 3.85 pesos in 2016.

Those higher prices mean that low-cost tequila producers, which make a cheaper, less pure drink that once dominated the market, find it harder to compete with premium players.

“It doesn’t make sense for tequila to be a cheap drink because agave requires a big investment,” said Luis Velasco, CNIT’s president.

Small-scale distillers of quality tequilas are also feeling the pinch and some warn that drinkers are seeking alternative tipples.

“At more than 20 pesos per kilo, it’s impossible to compete with other spirits like vodka and whisky,” said Salvador Rosales, manager of smaller producer Tequila Cascahuin, in El Arenal, a rural town in Jalisco.

“If we continue like this a lot of companies will disappear,” he said.

Exports to the United States of pure tequila jumped by 198 percent over the past decade, while cheaper blended tequila exports rose by just 11 percent, CNIT data shows.

Over the same time, Mexican production declined 4 percent, with blended tequila leading the fall.


As it sheds its image as a fiery booze drunk by desperados and fratboys, while moving into the ranks of top-shelf liquors, the tequila industry has seen a flurry of deals in recent years.

In January, Bacardi Ltd [BACLTD.UL] said it would buy fine tequila maker Patron Spirits International for $5.1 billion. [nL4N1PI3N9]

In 2017, after years of speculation, Mexico’s Beckmann family launched an initial public offering of Jose Cuervo (CUERVO.MX), raising more than $900 million. [nL4N1PI3N9]

And Britain’s Diageo Plc (DGE.L) swapped its Bushmills Irish whiskey label for full ownership of the high-end Don Julio tequila in 2014.

The question posed by many distillers is how to keep pace with tequila’s success.

“The growth has overtaken us. It’s a crisis of success of the industry,” said Francisco Soltero, director of strategic planning at Patron, which buys agave under various contracts.

“We thought that we were going to grow a certain amount, and we’re growing double,” he said.

Large sellers such as Patron and Tequila Sauza say they have not experienced problems paying for agave, and forecast that their inventories will keep growing.

“If you sell value, the costs don’t worry you,” Soltero said.

Tequila Sauza, which mostly grows its own agave, does not foresee supply problems, chief executive Servando Calderon said.

But some think it is simply a matter of time before the higher production costs and scarcity pressures bigger players.

“We are sure this will have a strong impact on the big firms such as Cuervo or Sauza,” said Raul Garcia, President of the National Committee for Agave Production in Tequila, a group that includes most agave producers in the country.

“We don’t see that the problem will be resolved soon, and that’s what worries us.”

Demand is also being driven by other, fashionable agave-derived products, including agave syrup and health supplement inulin, which use the equivalent of 20 percent of the plants needed in 2018, the CRT said.

And rising prices are leading to growing theft, driving out smaller producers, said Jose de Jesus, a producer of blue agave in Tepatitlan. Criminals come to the area with large trucks in the middle of the night to steal agave, he said.

According to the CRT last year 15,000 plants were reported stolen, more than triple the number in 2016.

($1 = 18.7096 Mexican pesos)

Writing by Christine Murray; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel, Daniel Flynn and Rosalba O’Brien

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Wall St. stumbles over high bond yields, health stocks

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. stocks fell for the second straight day on Tuesday as healthcare stocks and rising bond yields weighed on all three major U.S. indexes.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI fell 361.83 points, or 1.37 percent, to 26,077.65, the SP 500 .SPX lost 31.06 points, or 1.09 percent, to 2,822.47 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 64.02 points, or 0.86 percent, to 7,402.48.

Reporting by Stephen Culp; Editing by Nick Zieminski

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EA’s fourth-quarter revenue forecast tops estimates

(Reuters) – Videogame publisher Electronic Arts Inc (EA.O) expects the launch of the action-adventure video game, “A Way out”, to drive its revenue in the current quarter, sending its shares up more than 5.8 percent after the bell.

The company forecast full-year adjusted revenue of $5.15 billion, above analysts’ average estimate of $5.13 billion.

“Through the fourth quarter and fiscal 2019, we’ll be launching games across five different genres, on three different platforms, and to players around the world,” Chief Financial Officer Blake Jorgensen said.

However, the company reported revenue for the key holiday-shopping quarter that missed Wall Street expectations, despite the release of its much-anticipated “Star Wars” game.

On an adjusted basis, revenue for the third quarter ended Dec. 31 was $1.97 billion. Analysts on average had expected $2.01 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Reporting by Aishwarya Venugopal in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva

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#MeToo movement puts pressure on U.S. banks to disclose diversity data

(Reuters) – The #MeToo movement has put new momentum behind efforts to have companies, especially in finance, disclose details about their workforce diversity – data that could throw into sharper relief the slow pace of progress for women and minorities in the field.

Shareholder activists and corporate governance experts say they expect more support for disclosures such as the share of women and minorities in the senior ranks, or how equally they are paid.

Activists including Trillium Asset Management, Arjuna Capital and Calvert Research and Management are focused especially on banks and financial firms where women often make up a large share of the workforce, but not in leadership.

The subject is also gaining attention as investors poured $4.7 billion last year into funds that evaluate companies on social criteria.

Jonas Kron, senior vice president of Trillium Asset Management, said the emergence of the #MeToo movement likely helped boost support to 51 percent of votes cast in December for a shareholder proposal his firm sponsored calling for a diversity report at Palo Alto Networks Inc (PANW.N).

Counting abstentions, the measure was not approved, according to Palo Alto filings. Palo Alto Networks declined to comment.

Interest in the resolutions, Kron said, “Crested at the end of the year with the MeToo tidal wave, and I think it’s carrying through” into the 2018 spring proxy season.

Last spring similar resolutions got around 30 percent support of votes cast, like one at First Republic Bank (FRC.N) that got 33 percent support and which Trillium has refiled for this year.

A bank spokesman declined to comment on Trillium’s resolution. He said of the bank’s top 58 executives, more than half are women.

Executives across all industries are taking stock of an ongoing national debate on sexual harassment driven by what is known as the “#MeToo movement” on social media. Dozens of powerful men in politics, entertainment and business have been fired or resigned in the face of allegations they abused their power.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office said in November that while the representation of women and minorities in most parts of finance rose from 2007 to 2015, the gains were not even. (Graphic: Most American companies with more than 100 employees file a federal form tallying their employees by race and gender across all job categories. Though not required to make the data public, technology leaders and a number of top banks have done so or released detailed summaries including JPMorgan Chase Co (JPM.N), Citigroup Inc (C.N), Bank of America Corp (BAC.N) and Wells Fargo Co (WFC.N).

The figures do not always show progress. JPMorgan said women accounted for 24.7 percent of its top ranks in 2016, versus 25.8 percent in 2015.

Asked about the figures, JPMorgan spokesman Andrew Gray said women make up nearly half the bank’s 11-member operating committee and half of the direct reports of CEO Jamie Dimon. Gray said that “we strive every day to foster diversity and a workplace environment of respect and trust.”

Even if change is slow, investors and recruiters say the details can be useful as a measure of a company’s concerns.

“You are going to see more and more investors wanting to screen out those companies” that can’t show a diverse workforce, said Victoria Fernandez, managing director at Crossmark Global Investments.

Although they have released diversity data, the major banks so far have not released detailed breakdowns of how women and minorities are paid within job categories.

Under pressure from Arjuna shareholder proposals, Citigroup and Bank of America each said this month that on average they pay women 99 percent of what they pay men in the United States and in other countries.

Arjuna Managing Partner Natasha Lamb said she would still like to see the banks release pay measures broken down by job level. Arjuna is still seeking pay ratio details from other banks this spring including Wells Fargo.

One goal is to show investors and job seekers whether women are being paid equally as they are promoted, she said. “Compensation has been in a black box for decades,” she said.

Representatives of Citigroup and Bank of America declined to discuss Arjuna’s further request.

A Wells Fargo spokeswoman declined to comment on Arjuna’s current effort but noted language in its proxy filing last year when it opposed a similar resolution from Arjuna as being unnecessary because among other things the bank reviews pay equity annually.

“We are committed to ensuring that we do not discriminate on the basis of gender in our compensation programs,” the filing states.

Reporting by Ross Kerber in Boston; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

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Amazon, Berkshire, JPMorgan partner to cut U.S. healthcare costs

(Reuters) – Inc, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase Co said on Tuesday they will form a company to cut health costs for hundreds of thousands of their U.S. employees, setting up a major challenge to an inefficient U.S. healthcare system.

The move by three of the best-known U.S. business leaders – Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Berkshire’s Warren Buffett and JPMorgan’s Jamie Dimon – would take on the world’s most expensive healthcare system, whose mounting costs have hurt corporate profits. Shares in U.S. healthcare companies fell across the board.

The new, not-for-profit venture will initially focus on technology for “simplified, high-quality and transparent healthcare” for their more than 500,000 U.S. employees. They did not elaborate on their strategy, but said they are searching for a chief executive officer.

Healthcare industry experts say the new entity could eventually negotiate directly with drugmakers, doctors and hospitals and use their vast databases to get a better handle on the costs of those services.

That could undercut the industry’s “middlemen,” from health insurers to pharmacies and benefits managers.

“The ballooning costs of healthcare act as a hungry tapeworm on the American economy,” said Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Warren Buffett. “Our group does not come to this problem with answers. But we also do not accept it as inevitable.”

ISI Evercore analyst Michael Newshal said the selloff in healthcare stocks reflected the fear of disruption in a sector helped by rising prices year after year, but is under growing scrutiny from U.S. consumers, regulators and politicians.

“There are a lot of companies, or arguably almost all companies, in healthcare that benefit from cost inflation running as high as it has been for many years. And if there is pressure to lower that, that can flow throughout the entire system,” Newshal said.


U.S. healthcare spending has been increasing annually faster than inflation, and in 2017 accounted for 18 percent of the U.S. economy. Corporations sponsor health benefits for more than 160 million Americans.

Major healthcare players have tried to reduce costs without losing their profit margins. Most recently, pharmacy network CVS Health Corp reached a $69 billion deal to buy insurer Aetna Inc, arguing their combination could save money for the nation’s employers.

Investors in the sector see Amazon becoming a major disruptor of healthcare, just as it has done in the retail industry, fueled by media reports in recent months that the company was considering entering the pharmacy business.

Teaming up with JPMorgan, the biggest U.S. bank, and Berkshire, the third largest public company in the world, offers new opportunities to shake up the industry, analysts said.

For example, JPMorgan could help shape new payment models for consumers and providers, and provide cost data. CEO Dimon has for years expressed concerns about rising healthcare costs.

In 2015 he wrote in his annual letter that the company spent $1.1 billion on medical benefits for U.S. employees, 2 percent of companywide expenses.

Berkshire CEO Buffett has long complained that high healthcare costs were hurting American businesses, and publicly began using the term “tapeworm” to describe their effects as early as 2010.

The partnership will be spearheaded by Berkshire investment officer Todd Combs, JPMorgan managing director Marvelle Berchtold and Amazon senior vice president Beth Galetti.

Combs, 47, has been an investment deputy to Buffett since 2010, and joined JPMorgan’s board in 2016.


Health insurers that provide benefit management or health plans to Amazon, JPMorgan and Berkshire could be among the hardest hit.

JPMorgan uses UnitedHealth Group Inc (UNH.N) and Cigna Corp (CI.N) for health benefits for its global workforce, according to ISI Evercore analyst Ross Muken. Neither company was available for comment.

Amazon uses Premera Blue Cross, part of the Blue Cross Blue Shield network, according to Muken. Express Scripts (ESRX.O), the pharmacy benefits manager, has disclosed it manages pharmacy benefits for Amazon.

Shares in UnitedHealth, Cigna Corp and health insurer Anthem Inc fell 3 percent to 7 percent. Drugstore operators CVS (CVS.N) and Walgreen Boots Alliance (WBA.O) as well Express Scripts all dropped between 4 percent to 5 percent. Drug distributors Cardinal Health (CAH.N), AmerisourceBergen and McKesson were off 1 percent to 3 percent. Amazon added 0.7 percent.

  • Health investors roll out unwelcome mat for Amazon’s arrival

Additional reporting by Ankur Banerjee and Aparajita Saxena in Bengaluru and David Henry and Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Savio D’Souza and Jeffrey Benkoe

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Pfizer’s new tax rate higher than investors hoped, shares fall

(Reuters) – Pfizer Inc (PFE.N) said on Tuesday it expected to pay tax at an adjusted rate of about 17 percent this year, higher than some investors had expected, sending its shares down more than 3 percent.

Shares of the largest U.S. drugmaker jumped last Friday after rival AbbVie Inc (ABBV.N) projected a new adjusted tax rate of just 9 percent and rose to their highest level since 2002 on Monday on hopes that Pfizer might benefit to a similar extent.

Drugmaker stocks were also broadly lower on Tuesday after Inc (AMZN.O), Berkshire Hathaway Inc (BRKa.N) and JPMorgan Chase Co (JPM.N) said they would form a healthcare company aimed at cutting costs for U.S. employees.

“What you’re getting is a selloff based on people anticipating it was going to be lower,” SunTrust Robinson Humphrey analyst John Boris said of the new tax rate.

U.S. companies across the board are set to profit this year after the tax overhaul signed into law in late December slashed the corporate rate to 21 percent from 35 percent, and many have already forecast lower adjusted rates.

AbbVie set its estimate particularly low compared with other U.S. companies, projecting its adjusted tax rate would rise to about 13 percent over five years. Pfizer said it expects the 17 percent rate to be sustainable.

Pfizer Chief Executive Ian Read had long lobbied for cutting U.S. corporate taxes and twice had large deals thwarted that would have placed Pfizer under European tax rules.


Because of the new, low tax rate, Read said he was now under no pressure to do immediate deals, but remained open to acquisitions large and small under the right circumstances.

Pfizer is expected to entertain bids for its consumer health business, which could be worth $20 billion, although it said it may still decide to keep it..

How that turns out could influence other business development decisions, Read said in a telephone interview. “However, it wouldn’t stop us from moving quickly if we saw an opportunity.”

If pricing pressure on medicines continues to mount, Pfizer could do major deals, Read said, but added that there is “a sense of urgency” to accelerate earnings per share growth.

The company forecast 2018 profit well ahead of Wall Street estimates and increased its dividend to 34 cents a share. Combined with share buybacks, that will return more than $13 billion to shareholders, Chief Financial Officer Frank D‘Amelio said.


Pfizer recorded a $10.7 billion gain from the tax overhaul and said it was reviewing capital allocation plans under the new code.

It plans to invest about $5 billion in the United States over the next five years and pay about $15 billion in taxes over eight years to bring funds kept overseas back to the United States under the new tax laws.

Pfizer said it plans to repatriate about $20 billion, based on third-quarter cash and investment levels.

For 2018, Pfizer forecast adjusted earnings of $2.90 to $3 per share and revenue of $53.5 billion to $55.5 billion, figures that include a full-year contribution from consumer healthcare.

Analysts were estimating earnings of $2.78 per share and revenue of $53.9 billion.

Pfizer’s fourth-quarter adjusted profit of 62 cents per share topped analysts’ average expectations by 6 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Quarterly results were fueled by strong demand for its Prevnar pneumonia vaccine and rheumatoid arthritis drug Xeljanz.


The company expressed confidence that its pipeline of drugs in development for cancer, pain and other conditions, as well as a large opportunity if Xtandi gains expanded approval for earlier prostate cancer use, can more than offset generic competition for blockbuster products Viagra and Lyrica.

It projected about a $2 billion annual impact from losses of patent exclusivities from 2018 to 2020, decreasing to about $500 million or less through 2025.

Pfizer said it has about 20 cancer drug combinations being tested and has not given up on becoming a player in the most lucrative lung cancer market despite lagging rivals.

Pfizer shares fell $1.37 to $37.65.

Reporting by Bill Berkrot and Michael Erman in New York and Divya Grover in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Bill Rigby

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Facebook to ban cryptocurrency-related ads

(Reuters) – Facebook Inc said on Tuesday it will ban ads promoting financial products and services tied to cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings.

“We’ve created a new policy that prohibits ads that promote financial products and services that are frequently associated with misleading or deceptive promotional practices, such as binary options, initial coin offerings and cryptocurrency,” Facebook’s product management director, Rob Leathern, said.

The new policy will be implemented across its platforms, including Facebook, Audience Network and Instagram, the company said.

Reporting by Munsif Vengattil in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva

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