January 19, 2019

Overstock.com Stockpiling Gold Just in Case

In case you've been pining for some Overstock.com coverage (oh, just admit it!), here's an update we've deemed worthy:

On Overstock's last quarterly report to the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company listed $10.9 million in "precious metals" among its assets — $6.3 million in gold and $4.6 million in silver.

The coins are stored at an off-site facility. The company lists the holdings as a risk, since the value of the stockpile depends on fluctuations in market rates. For the first six months of 2015, the company reported a $52,000 loss on its holdings.

"That's very unusual," said Scott Schaefer, a professor of finance at the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah. "I've not heard of a company stockpiling gold before."

Given the context, I don't find it all that unusual. This is the same company whose CEO packs firearms into random luggage. The same company that has (and still) discloses social media as a risk to its reputation. Here's the 10-Q. It'll meet your expectations.

And here's company chairman (and Utah gubernatorial candidate) Jonathan Johnson explaining it to the United Precious Metals Association:

"We expect when there is a financial crisis, there will be a banking holiday," Johnson, Overstock chairman of the board, told the group. "I don't know if it will be two days or two weeks or two months. But we have $10 million in gold and silver in denominations small enough … that we can use it for payroll. We want to be able to keep our employees paid [and] safe and our site up and running."

Also, Overstock.com accepts bitcoins, so if this imaginary banking holiday does in fact last two months and you suddenly need super-discounted furniture, rest assured that Patrick Byrne & Co. will be there for you.

[SLT, 10-Q]

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