Straight talking at Clontarf
Cantillon: Unloved exploration minnows need to deliver for shareholders
Clontarf Energy chairman John Teeling. Photograph: Dave Meehan
Clarity is not something that can always be taken for granted when working through the financial results of companies – listed or otherwise. Credit, then, to serial entrepreneur John Teeling.
Publishing figures for London AIM-listed Clontarf Energy showing another year with no revenues to say nothing of profits, Teeling noted that “investors in junior exploration shares have had a tough time in recent years”.
Indeed. He goes on to concede that the lack of buying interest in AIM-listed exploration ventures such as Clontarf has now extended to nine years – since the financial crash.
Still, the irrepressible Teeling is confident the cycle will turn and asserts Clontarf’s focus to be in a position to benefit when that happens. “Investors good enough, or lucky enough, to select the right vehicles will profit handsomely,” he predicts.
Lucky is right. The fortunes of exploration minnows in delivering investor returns in recent years is underwhelming, despite the continuing enthusiasm by Teeling and others for myriad oil, gas and commodity plays in far-flung places.
Clontarf’s main focus is on Ghana. Over the past seven years, progress has been interrupted by “disputes, discussions and resolutions” on a range of issues. Teeling notes that recent elections returned to power the party with which Clontarf has reached accord.
“We have good working relationships with politicians in this party,” he says. He better hope they last the distance.
In Peru, successive delays mean test drilling is unlikely before 2019, while three blocks it inherited in Bolivia have been nationalised and even the ebullient Teeling struggles to provide any grounds for optimism in the medium term.
Clontarf, says Teeling, has “ensured survival by maintaining their exploration interests and by raising new funds when available”.
To date that has worked but the share price is struggling for air. As a result, investors at Clontarf and other industry minnows will heartily endorse Teeling’s conclusion: “We need to reinvigorate the company.”