U.S. Platinum Miner Hammers Estimates, Faces Challenge from Investor

Platinum bars
Platinum bars

Stillwater Mining Co. (NYSE: SWC) reported fourth-quarter and full-year 2012 results before markets opened this morning.

The platinum and palladium miner posted quarterly earnings per share (EPS) of $0.46, compared with a consensus estimate of $0.05. Revenues of $203.37 million were short of the consensus estimate of $217.67 million, but platinum pricing was stronger in the quarter, which helped on the earnings side.

But the most interesting thing about Stillwater is what the company did not mention in its press release. Hedge fund The Clinton Group, which holds a 1% stake in the company (about 1.3 million shares), has nominated a full slate of candidates for the company's board of directors, including the former governor of Montana, Brian Schweitzer, who left office in January as a result of the state's term limits law. Schweitzer purchased 25,000 shares of Stillwater after he left office.

The Clinton Group and Schweitzer are taking issue with Stillwater's Canadian and Argentine projects, which they claim should be sold in order for Stillwater to maintain its focus on its Montana operations. The company counters that The Clinton Group "has minimal experience in the mining industry" and does not recognize the company's "positive momentum."

A report from AP cites an analyst who agrees with Schweitzer and the hedge fund:

The type of asset they went after makes no sense. It's a completely undeveloped area in the far reaches of Argentina, with no power, no water. The nature of that is just ridiculous for a company that's been focused on a palladium mine in Montana.

Stillwater's shares are trading up about 1% in the premarket this morning, at $13.00 in a 52-week range of $7.47 to $15.23.

Filed under: 24/7 Wall St. Wire, Commodities & Metals, Corporate Governance, Earnings, Shareholder Issues Tagged: SWC