Three Gold Miners on Sale

Disgust. Despair. Robbed. These are just a few of the emotions likely felt by investors in the Gold Miners Index (GDX), which are looking at the ETF trade at the same level it did over two years ago when the gold price (GLD) sat below $1,525/oz.

Worse, this pathetic performance has occurred in a period when the Federal Reserve has been its most dovish in years ahead of the past two meetings.

Now, staring down the possibility of two additional rate hikes, it's understandable that investors are on pins and needles, worried about the effect of additional rate hikes on gold and the miners. As the saying goes, though, it's always darkest before the dawn, and with sentiment arguably the worst in years, I believe this has presented some opportunities in the gold miners.

GDX Chart

Source: TC2000.com

With the Federal Reserve's mission being to stamp out multi-decade inflation readings, they've adopted one of their most hawkish stances in years, planning to raise rates four times this year.

Conventional wisdom would suggest that does not make owning gold very attractive with an alternative (higher interest rates) suddenly available.

However, the more important metric to watch is real rates, defined as the three-month treasury bill minus the current inflation rate. When real rates are in negative territory, gold tends to perform its best, given that there is a cost to not owning gold.

Real Rates

Source: Real Rates, YCharts.com, Author's Chart

Despite the recent rate hikes, this key indicator continues to sit deep in negative territory, hovering near (-) 7.00%. This means that even if investors are getting a better interest rate, it's being eaten away by inflation, it's which is likely to remain above 5.0%.

So, why gold miners? Gold producers mine and process gold for those unfamiliar, and they provide significant leverage to the gold price. Historically, owning them over the metal hasn't made much sense, given that they didn't pay dividends and had much higher beta to the gold price, and lacked growth.

However, for once in a decade, many of the best producers have low debt, are paying 3.5% plus dividend yields, and have growth. This makes them far more attractive than the gold price, getting leverage on the metal while being paid to wait.

Let's look at three names that stand out from a quality standpoint.

Agnico Eagle (AEM)

Agnico Eagle (AEM) is the third-largest gold producer globally, on track to produce 3.3 million ounces of gold in 2022 at all-in sustaining costs [AISC] below $1,030/oz. This makes it one of the highest-margin producers and the lowest-risk, given that it operates in the safest jurisdictions globally with 11+ mines.

Notably, AEM recently added two ultra-high-grade mines to its portfolio and the largest gold mine in Canada: Detour Lake. The company did this by merging with one of the best growth stories in the sector, Kirkland Lake Gold.

In most circumstances, I would avoid a large producer like Agnico Eagle, but the company has one key differentiator from its peers after its recent merger, which is growth.

To date, the company has not given any firm targets or long-term production guidance, but given the company's solid pipeline, which leverages existing infrastructure, I see a path to annual production of 4.3 million ounces of gold by 2029. This would represent 30% growth from current levels, 2500 basis points higher than its peer group of multi-million-ounce producers.

While most gold producers will rely on the gold price to increase earnings and free cash flow looking out over the next six years, AEM will not. Despite this growth, the company trades at its largest discount to net asset value in years, with
what I believe to be a fair value of $78.00 per share.

So, with the stock hovering below the $48.00 level, AEM is my favorite way to get gold exposure currently, especially with a 3.4% dividend yield.

Royal Gold (RGLD)

Another name that recently moved onto the sale rack is Royal Gold (RGLD), the third-largest precious metals gold/streaming and royalty company.

Unlike Agnico Eagle, Royal Gold makes an upfront payment to gold developers and producers, and in exchange, it receives a portion of the production over the project's life. This protects the company from inflationary pressures, which is essential at a time of rising costs like we're seeing currently.

Royal Gold reported attributable production volume of 88,500 gold-equivalent ounces [GEOs] in Q1 and is on track for up to 340,000 GEOs this year.

However, with a solid organic growth pipeline, there is a meaningful upside to this outlook over the next few years, with the potential for 410,000+ GEOs per annum, which is a change from the past few years when the company was in its investment phase and lacked growth.

Despite this attractive growth outlook and 80% plus margins, Royal Gold currently trades at just 25x FY2023 earnings estimates vs. its historical earnings multiple of 50x earnings (20-year average). Even using a more conservative multiple of 38x earnings, which is easily justifiable for a company with 80% margins and recurring revenue, I see a fair value of $162.20. So, with the stock currently sitting below $108.00, this looks like an attractive buying opportunity.

Karora Resources (KRRGF)

Karora Resources (KRRGF) is the riskiest name on the list, sporting a market cap of barely $400 million and being a sub-150,000-ounce gold producer in Australia. However, it also has the most upside by a wide margin and looks very attractive for a small bet.

The reason is that it boasts one of the most impressive organic growth profiles, on track to increase production from 120,000 ounces in 2022 to 220,000 ounces by 2026. The company expects to achieve this by adding a second decline at its Beta Hunt Mine and using additional processing capacity from a recent mill purchase north of the mine.

Like AEM, this will allow Karora to grow earnings and free cash flow meaningfully regardless of the gold price, with any gold price upside being a bonus. So, with the stock trading at less than 1.3x FY2025 revenue estimates, this pullback below US$2.60 looks like a gift.

Final Thoughts

The gold producers are a high-risk area of the market, but once every couple of years, there's a fat pitch, and they get sold down to levels where they trade at massive discounts to fair value.

After the most recent decline in the GDX, we have reached this period, and I see the potential for a 25% plus upside over the next 9 months in the sector while collecting a 3.0%+ dividend yield in names like AEM. Hence, I see AEM, RGLD, and KRRGF as attractive ways to diversify one's portfolio.

Disclosure: I am long AEM

Taylor Dart
INO.com Contributor

Disclaimer: This article is the opinion of the contributor themselves. Taylor Dart is not a Registered Investment Advisor or Financial Planner. This writing is for informational purposes only. It does not constitute an offer to sell, a solicitation to buy, or a recommendation regarding any securities transaction. The information contained in this writing should not be construed as financial or investment advice on any subject matter. Taylor Dart expressly disclaims all liability in respect to actions taken based on any or all of the information in this writing. Given the volatility in the precious metals sector, position sizing is critical, so when buying small-cap precious metals stocks, position sizes should be limited to 5% or less of one's portfolio.

Three Gold Miners To Buy On Dips

It’s been a turbulent month for the markets, but while the S&P-500 (SPY) and Nasdaq Composite (QQQ) are deep in negative territory, the price of gold has been holding up well. This is evidenced by its (-) 1% monthly return and flat performance year-to-date.

This 2000 basis point out-performance for the yellow metal should not be overly surprising, given that it typically performs its best when real rates are deep in negative territory.

While this is good news for gold investors, it’s also good news for gold miners, one of the few industry groups holding the line on margins. Let’s take a closer look below:

Gold to S&P500 ratio

Source: TC2000.com

Gold Miners Index

One of the preferred ways to get exposure to the gold price is through the Gold Miners Index (GDX), the most popular ETF that holds a basket of 50 miners. The problem with the index is that at least 50% of gold miners are un-investable, and several are poorly run, so the high proportion of laggards dilutes the performance of the ETF.

For this reason, my favorite way to play the sector is to focus on individual names, particularly those with high margins and growth. Three companies that meet this criterion are Agnico Eagle (AEM), Orla Mining (ORLA), and Karora Resources (KRRGF).

Agnico Eagle

Beginning with Agnico Eagle, the company is a 3.4-million-ounce producer with 11 mines that operates out of Canada, Australia, Mexico, and Finland.

While producers of this size are typically not known for growth, Agnico has an enviable pipeline of non-operating assets it’s looking to bring online (Hope Bay, Santa Gertrudis, Upper Beaver). These projects combined could add 600,000 ounces of additional gold production by 2027.

Apart from this, Agnico has organic growth at multiple assets, including a new shaft at Macassa, the potential to integrate a nearby deposit, and plans for higher throughput at Detour. Combined with its non-operating pipeline, this could push annual production to 4.4 million ounces by 2028.

Agnico Eagle Growth, Company Filings

Source: Agnico Eagle Growth, Company Filings, Author's Chart & Estimates

This 30% production growth profile places Agnico in rare air among its peers, where most million-ounce producers struggle to maintain production levels as their highest-grade reserves are depleted.

Combined with industry-leading margins and 95% of production from Tier-1 jurisdictions, Agnico should command a premium multiple, easily justifying an earnings multiple of 24 and a P/NAV multiple. This translates to a fair value of ~$75.00 per share, making the stock a steal on this pullback below $52.00.

As a bonus, investors are getting a nearly 3.0% dividend yield at current prices.

Orla Mining

The second name worth keeping a close eye on is Orla Mining, a new producer with a ~100,000-ounce production profile in Mexico.

The company is a single-asset producer, which generally makes for a riskier investment, but it recently announced that it would be acquiring Gold Standard Ventures, a gold developer in Nevada. Not only does this diversify the company from complete reliance on Mexico for its operations, but it should also transform it into a dual-asset producer by 2025, with multi-asset producers typically commanding higher multiples due to their lower risk profile.

Gold Standard’s South Railroad Project [SRP] is similar to Orla’s current producing mine, Camino Rojo, with both being heap-leach operations, which Orla has experience with, having just built this mine on time and under budget last year.

Assuming Orla chooses to develop the SRP, the company could grow production to more than 300,000 ounces per annum by 2026 at costs below $850/oz. This could easily justify a market cap of $1.65BB, which, divided by ~330MM fully diluted shares, would translate to a fair value of $5.00 per share.

Based on a current share price of $3.45, and with the stock being in the unfavorable post-acquisition period when stocks often come under pressure, I don’t see this as a buying opportunity just yet.

However, if we were to see ORLA dip below $2.95 per share, this would present a low-risk buy point for a starter position in the stock with ~70% upside to fair value.

ORLA Mining Company Presentation

Source: Company Presentation

Karora Resources

The last name worth keeping an eye on is Karora Resources, a mid-tier producer operating in Western Australia that’s also focused on growth.

As outlined last year, the company plans to increase gold production to 200,000 ounces per annum by 2025, up from ~100,000 ounces in 2021. This is expected to be accomplished by adding a second decline at its flagship Beta Hunt Mine and doubling ore production from the mine.

However, after a recent acquisition of a new mill (Lakewood) just north of Beta Hunt, it’s looking like there’s the potential to increase annual gold production to 240,000 ounces by 2026 due to extra capacity (addition of a second mill to process material).

Karora Growth Plan

Source: Karora Growth Plan, Company Presentation

Following this upgraded outlook, Karora now has one of the most impressive growth profiles sector-wide, with a ~19% compound annual growth rate from 2022-to 2026 if it can meet these production goals.

This production growth is expected to be coupled with margin expansion as it boosts nickel production (higher by-product credits) and benefits from economies of scale. So, with the stock 40% off its highs below US$3.10 per share, I see the stock as a steal at current levels.

Final Thoughts

With the gold miners out of favor and trading at their cheapest valuations relative to the gold price in more than five years, I believe now is the time to begin scaling into the sector with long positions into weakness.

In my view, Agnico Eagle and Karora Resources are two of the most attractive ways to play this trend towards gold’s recent outperformance vs. equities. Elsewhere, if Orla sees more share-price weakness below $2.95, this will represent another growth name to complement a portfolio in an industry where it’s difficult to find growth historically.

Disclosure: I am long AEM, KRRGF, GLD

Taylor Dart
INO.com Contributor

Disclaimer: This article is the opinion of the contributor themselves. Taylor Dart is not a Registered Investment Advisor or Financial Planner. This writing is for informational purposes only. It does not constitute an offer to sell, a solicitation to buy, or a recommendation regarding any securities transaction. The information contained in this writing should not be construed as financial or investment advice on any subject matter. Taylor Dart expressly disclaims all liability in respect to actions taken based on any or all of the information in this writing. Given the volatility in the precious metals sector, position sizing is critical, so when buying small-cap precious metals stocks, position sizes should be limited to 5% or less of one's portfolio.