Overstock is ready for a real crisis.
A report in The Financial Times on Thursday highlighted the online retailer’s roughly $US10 million of gold and silver — that is, physical gold and silver — it owns in case there’s another crisis and the company needs to make payroll.
As detailed in the company’s latest 10-Q filed with the SEC:
Our precious metals consisted of $US6.3 million in gold and $US4.6 million in silver at June 30, 2015 and December 31, 2014
. We store our precious metals at an off-site secure facility. Because these assets consist of actual precious metals, rather than financial instruments, we account for them as a cost method investment initially recorded at cost (including transaction fees) and then adjusted to the lower of cost or market based on an average unit cost. On an interim basis, we recognise decreases in the value of these assets caused by market declines … We recorded a $US52,000 loss on investments in precious metals for the three and six months ended June 30, 2015. There were no recorded gains or losses during the three and six months ended June 30, 2014.
Again, we’d note that Overstock doesn’t own ETFs or some other synthetic instrument that is a claim on gold or silver — which many people who diversify their investment portfolios by “owning some gold” end up doing (i.e., not actually owning gold) — the company instead owns the real thing. This is serious.
As for why the company does this, Overstock chairman Jonathan Johnson told the FT, “We thought there’s a decent chance that there could be a banking holiday at some point caused by a crisis and it could last for two days or two weeks or who knows how long, and we wanted to be in a position where we could continue to operate during any such crisis.”
Speaking to the United Precious Metals Association last month, Johnson added that the company also keeps 3 months of food for each employee on hand.
So the company is not messing around: they are prepared for something bad to happen. Johnson told the FT, however, that he is not a “prepper.”
For folks that follow Overstock, however, this revelation may not come as a complete surprise, given that Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne has been one of the most outspoken advocates for bitcoin.
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