One of the best ways to determine value when it comes to income investing is by looking at a stock's price-to-book ratio, better known as its P/B ratio. A low P/B ratio can mean two things as my fellow SA colleague Kevin Quon points out, "the lower a company's P/B is below 1, the more likely it is that a company has either overvalued its assets or is trading at a discount towards an accurate worth of its present condition."
Given the fact that both the SPDR Gold Shares ETF (NYSEARCA:GLD) and Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (NYSEARCA:GDX) have fallen 16.98% and 39.30%, since the 1st of this year, I think there may be some potential value hidden within a number of gold mining stocks. Not only did I want to find gold miners with P/B ratios of 1.00 or under, I also wanted to find yields above 2.00% and the demonstration of a positive or neutral spread (represented by a negative number) between each company's current P/E and forward P/E ratios.
Eldorado Gold Corp. (NYSE:EGO): Based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Eldorado Gold, together with its subsidiaries, "engages in the exploration, development, mining, and production of gold properties in Turkey, China, Greece, Brazil, and Romania. The company also explores for iron, silver, lead, zinc, and copper ores." (Yahoo! Finance) Shares of EGO, which currently possess a market cap of $5.04 billion, a P/E ratio of 16.02, a forward P/E ratio of 10.07, a positive P/E spread of -5.95, a P/B ratio of 0.85 ($7.05/$8.31), and a yield of 2.00% ($0.14), settled at $7.05/share on Friday.
On April 10, it was announced that Eldorado's Skouries mine, located in Greece, could play a definitive role in the country's road toward economic recovery. George Tzogopoulos, a research fellow at the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy in Athens, thinks this project could be just what Greece needs, as he recently noted that "This is the type of project needed to overcome the economic crisis." If in fact Greece gives the green light, not only will Eldorado's investment provide 1.6 billion EUR in tax revenue over two years, it also stands to create an estimated 5,000 jobs related to the project.
Goldcorp (NYSE:GG): Based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Goldcorp "engages in the acquisition, development, exploration, and operation of precious metal properties in Canada, the United States, Mexico, and Central and South America. It primarily explores for gold ores, as well as for silver, copper, lead, and zinc ores." (Yahoo! Finance) Shares of GG, which currently possess a market cap of $22.62 billion, a P/E ratio of 14.07, a forward P/E ratio of 9.81, a positive P/E spread of -4.26, a P/B ratio of 0.99 ($27.86/$27.99), and a yield of 2.15% ($0.06), settled at $27.86/share on Friday.
When it comes to Goldcorp, not only am I impressed with the company's balance sheet as it denotes nearly $900 million in cash, but the fact that the company's Cerro Negro project is expected to begin production during the second half of this year has a very good chance of enhancing the company's current cash position. According to the company's website, "Based on expected throughput of 4,000 tons per day, annual gold production in the first five years of full production is expected to average 525,000 ounces at cash costs of less than $350 per ounce, and first gold production is expected in the latter part of 2013."
IAMGOLD Corp. (NYSE:IAG): Based in Toronto, Ontario, IAMGOLD "engages in the exploration, development, and operation of mining properties. Its products include gold, silver, niobium, and copper deposits. The company holds interests in five operating gold mines, and a niobium mine, as well as exploration and development projects located in Africa and South America". (Yahoo! Finance) Shares of IAG, which currently possess a market cap of $1.83 billion, a P/E ratio of 5.47, a forward P/E ratio of 5.47, a neutral P/E spread of 0.00, a P/B ratio of 0.49 ($4.87/$9.90), and a yield of 5.13% ($0.25), settled at $4.87/share on Friday.
When it comes to IAMGOLD, the big question is going to be whether or not the company sticks to its guns regarding its recently announced efforts to reduce spending by roughly $100M or just less than 10% of last year's operating expenses ($1.1 billion). One of the things to point out is the fact that the company is not only addressing its spending problem, it's attacking it head-on. According to the company's President and CEO Steve Letwin, "Our assault on costs will continue until we have exhausted all possible opportunities to reduce spending and our management team is fully focused on meeting this goal and intends to report on our progress as we move forward." If the company can successfully reduce its operating expenses as noted, shareholders could in fact see some of the company's excess cash be returned through either a potential stock buyback or dividend increase.
Conclusion: Although all three stocks look pretty inexpensive given their low-end P/E ratios and subsequent P/B ratios, I'd still continue to keep a watchful eye on the price of gold, since any drop below $1300/oz. could begin to spell trouble for many of the larger gold miners. If we begin to see an uptick in the price of Gold, I'd look to strengthen my position in any of the above mentioned gold miners. If, on the other hand, the price of gold continues to trade lower and fall beyond the $1300/oz. threshold, I'd begin to seek out alternative options.