“Eat Our Own Cooking”

WSJ: A Real-Estate Mogul Is Behind the Hottest Stock in the Oil Patch

No, not TPL (right now), but good information nonetheless.  This ‘skin in the game’ ethos gets me fired up.

Mr. Goff first reported a stake in Contango last summer. He bought more than 18% of the company’s shares when they were trading for more than $4 and pushed the company to cut costs, particularly at its headquarters.

Messrs. Goff and Colyer joined the company’s board in August 2018. Mr. Colyer, who was 33 years old at the time and has worked at Mr. Goff’s side for more than a decade, assumed the CEO role. His first move was to cut his own salary in half.

“We’re going to eat our own cooking and keep costs low and try to get the upside,” Mr. Colyer said in an interview.

Messrs. Goff and Colyer said that in addition to running a lean operation in Contango’s Houston headquarters, they are hoping to grow without spending much on drilling, aiming instead to gather wells that are already producing oil and gas.

“There’s a whole host of avenues to grow without drilling holes in the ground,” Mr. Goff said.

September Update Submitted

Trust Retains Credit Suisse as Financial Advisor

DALLAS–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The Conversion Exploration Committee (the “Committee”) of Texas Pacific Land Trust (NYSE: TPL) (the “Trust” or “TPL”) today provided the first in a series of updates on its deliberations.

The Trust, after Trust management and the Committee interviewed a number of potential financial advisors, retained Credit Suisse to assist the Trust and the Committee in developing its recommendation to the Trustees.

The Committee’s deliberations to date have been productive and informative. The Committee has met three times, both in person and over the phone. Although its deliberations are confidential, the Committee will provide monthly progress reports to shareholders as required by its Charter before issuing a final recommendation by the end of year.

The Committee is chaired by John R. Norris III and David E. Barry, the incumbent Trustees of TPL. Its additional members are (in alphabetical order): Four-Star General Donald G. Cook, USAF (Retired); Craig Hodges, Chief Executive Officer of Hodges Capital; Dana McGinnis, Founder and Chief Investment Officer of Mission Advisors; Eric L. Oliver, Founder and President of SoftVest Advisors and Murray Stahl, Chairman of Horizon Kinetics.

Productive.  Informative.  Hired bankers.  Met three times.  Sounds like progress.

Current EVP/COO Sameer Parasnis is a CS alum.

Surprisingly Productive

FRMO Corp. 2019 Shareholder Letter

Texas Pacific Land Trust is a unique enterprise that was formed as a result of the bankruptcy of the Texas Pacific Railroad in 1888. Much of the land holdings are located in the Delaware Basin, which forms a part of the Permian Basin in West Texas. In our view, it is an irreplaceable asset that simply could not be recreated in this form, even by a very large company with huge resources. Its developmental possibilities are beginning to be exploited.

However, the area lacks pipeline capacity, which will probably require years to adequately provide. As a consequence, natural gas is being flared and brings no revenue in cases of flaring. Adequate pipeline capacity will solve this problem. The area contains extremely valuable water rights that could become royalty income, as well as surface rights that can provide easement income. This is in addition to conventional oil and gas royalties. It is also important to observe that hydrocarbons have been in a bear market for the past five years. The price of West Texas Intermediate oil has declined by about 50% in the past five years.

Essentially, Texas Pacific Land Trust is a royalty income stream with free infinite call options on the price of energy as well as advances in drilling technology. In a royalty situation, price increases simply increase revenue and net profit with no concomitant increase in cost. Similarly, improvements in technology by other firms result in enhanced production, which increases revenue and net profit with no concomitant cost. Consequently, it is not difficult to understand our enthusiasm for this investment.

Of course, an issue with this investment is the 19th century governance structure of the enterprise, which we believe should be updated in accordance with the modern conception of corporate governance. Toward that end, Horizon Kinetics engaged in a proxy contest and ultimately in some litigation as well. At the end of July 2019, the various parties agreed to establish a Conversion Exploration Committee consisting of seven members.

Since we are committed to confidentiality under the terms of the agreement, we are not at liberty to comment on the work of the committee. However, civil discourse can be surprisingly productive. In any case, when one views the progress of Texas Pacific Land Trust in the context of the energy bear market of the past five years, one finds it difficult to restrain one’s optimism asto what might happen in a better environment.

Fasken Oil & Ranch Ltd

Bloomberg: He Paid $1.50 an Acre for Barren Texas Land Now Worth $7 Billion

Then there’s the holdout, Fasken Oil & Ranch Ltd., still seemingly bound by the fading West Texas ethic that ruled in the days when ranches were handed from generation to generation, with the dictum of “Never sell the minerals” as guidance. “They’re one of the very rare owners that never severed their minerals and surface rights,” Wurtz said.