Monday, July 25, 2011

Performance of Gold Mining Stocks not Necessarily Correlated with the Price of Gold (last 2 months gold price is up over 14% but a basket of large/mid cap gold stocks is down 7%)

Gold stocks have decreased in value by about 7% over the last 2 months even though the price of gold has risen 14%. (Maison Placements Canada Inc.) Goldcorp and Kinross Gold both fell 4% in July 2011 even though the price of gold increased 14% (in Canada the S&P gold index only increased 8% during that time even though it hit a near term low prior to that). (globeandmail: Gold stocks still lag surging bullion price) Gold companies are playing catchup for a number reasons; Many of the established companies have dwindling reserves (annual production exceeds reserve replacement) which is one of the reasons behind declining global output (China is one of only a handful of countries that can be relied on for growth); Prior to the more recent spike in the price of gold (before 2009) gold production worldwide fell each year, from 2005 to 2009 consecutively meaning that record high gold prices are needed just to keep production steady (higher gold prices make new mine production easier to accomplish because cash costs don't need to be low for healthy margins to be realized) (Goldsheet - Historical World Gold Production) Over the long term, production has also been down in the established mining districts of South Africa and Canada. (Gold News:Gold Mining Decline) In September 2010 all of the world's gold stocks had a combined market value of US$ 360 billion, that compares to US$ 19 billion in 2000 (increase is due mostly to new mining companies entering the market; higher gold prices make even the highest cash cost operations economically viable).

There is optimism regarding production though. In Australia, Olympic Dam (BHP Billiton's trillion dollar gold/copper/silver project), Super Pit, Newcrest Mining's Cadia Hill (33 million oz of gold reserves) are well on their way to producing in the near future while in other countries that have exhibited falling production rates in the 2000's (Canada specifically), new projects at Detour Lake, Malartic, Kerr-Sulphurets Mitchell and Snowfield/Bruceback (88 exploration projects in British Columbia alone in 2010 with capex spending the sixth highest since 1991) have investors optimistic. (Mineweb: Officials believe one of the largest gold resources in the world lies within BC) Canada's biggest gold project, Kerr-Sulphurets-Mitchell (reserves at 39 million ounces for gold and 214 million ounces for silver) is estimated to have cash costs of only $105 for the first seven years, that's four times less than Goldcorp's cash cost which has the lowest among tier 1 gold companies; also four times lower than Yamana Gold's cash costs !
The reason for the 7% drop in gold stocks at a time when gold prices increased by double digits (%) is simple: Companies with declining reserves are looking to mine in high cash cost regions out of desperation (higher cash cost=smaller margins=market value of each ounce goes down). Newmont Mining is an example; though reserves have maintained growth the increases have been smaller [only about 1.6% growth in 2P reserves in 2010, 93.5 million from 92 million ounces versus 7 million between 2008 and 2009 (85 mil in 2008/92 mil in 2009], established companies like AngloGold and Goldfields have decreasing production rates while other companies like Kinross Gold have taken on lots of debt to make questionable acquisitions (by issuing paper, other examples are Barrick Gold's acquisition of Equinox Minerals). Smaller potential for cash cost improvements/production rates by established companies means the junior, relatively new players (like Eldorado Gold, Detour Gold, Osisko Mining) and others like Yamana Gold (undervalued because of past risks which have proven to be not a problem for the company, Yamana was up 13% in the month of July, being one of the only major gold players to record significant growth over that time (Newmont was flat while Barrick Gold was only 3.5% higher, Goldcorp and Kinross were flat) is where the highest growth rates (PEG Ratio, P/E ratio) will come from. In 2008 though, things were different; For most of 2008 when gold prices started their overall upward trend, it was the large cap companies that outperformed the small cap; the opposite was true in the summer of 2011 when gold prices broke through new levels, the change in behavior might simply be the result of a much higher support level for gold prices making high production costs less of an issue for startup companies (many more juniors entered the market in 2011 than in 2008). Goldcorp's largest gold producing mine Red Lake, is nearing the end of its mine life (about 700,000 ounces/year gone), but Goldcorp production will be maintained due to many other mines commencing (Penasquito, Mexico reached commercial production in late 2010; Pueblo Viejo, Dominican Republic; Cerro Del Negro, Argentina).
Another thing to consider is that there are some factors unrelated to stocks, which affect spot prices; For example in early August of 2011 (when there was a lot of economic uncertainty) gold and silver spot prices declined at the same time major stock indices fell by their largest margin since the 2008 recession, the commodities selloff was sparked by a margin call (temporary selloff due to traders being required to meet call options). On August 8, 2011 when stocks performed poorly, gold spiked again (gold is the first thing central banks/banks/investors hoard when they want a stable investment medium, also when banks realize they might have to fulfill their significant short positions) but don't be concerned about the more gradual silver increase (historically, silver has lagged gold (time) when increases occur; the reason is that banks and large investors tend to wait until gold gets too expensive before buying the white metal); also, when gold becomes more costly, jewelers and industrials turn to alternatives and silver is one of them. Also consider the gold/silver ratio which is 44 (August 8, 2011), much higher than the historic ratio of under 20.

Some interesting facts about gold: 3/4 of all the gold ever extracted from the earth was mined after 1910. South Africa was the largest producer in most years since that time. Switzerland was the last country to tie its currency to the price of gold (1999). Until May 2009, all the gold ever extracted amounted to 5,835,876,025.6 ounces or about 85% of an ounce per person (165,446 tonnes). Gold weighs 19.3 times as much as water, is even more rare than diamonds, never oxidizes (maintains its shine), and in its more natural form, is one of the softest metals. Web Directories

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