"Silver and gold are not the only coin; virtue too passes current all over the world." - Euripides
Contrarian investors who bought up gold & silver miners near the end of 2013 when they were completing two years of dismal underperformance to the market; have reaped some large rewards so far in 2014.
Assisted by rising precious metal prices and rationalization across the industry, these miners have been standout performers in the New Year. Even with their recent rise, these mining stocks are selling for fractions of their highs reached in 2011 when precious metal prices hit their peak.
If gold & silver continue to rise and miners continue to close mines, cancel new projects and lower operational costs; this run may last a while. For aggressive investors who want a couple of high risk/high reward plays in the space, a couple of opportunities are profiled bellowed. Both are near $4 a share, have some recent momentum and are way under highs seen when precious metal prices were higher.
Hecla Mining (NYSE:HL) develops and produces unrefined gold and silver bullion bars to precious metals traders. Its primary productive assets are in Alaska and Idaho. The company has been in existence for over a hundred years. Hecla produced 8.9 million ounces of silver and 120 thousand ounces of gold produced in 2013.
The company recently reported record gold & silver reserves even using much lower prices ($1,300/oz for gold; $20/oz for silver) than previous years. Gold production rose 190% Y/Y and silver production was up 13% Y/Y in 2013. Revenues grew over 20% in FY2013 and a better than 30% sales gain is expected as it Lucky Friday mine gets past the accidents & closures that have plagued it over the past couple of years.
After losing a few pennies a share in FY2013, analysts expect Hecla to make a few cents a share in profit in FY2014. Hecla is a low cost producer and any further increase in precious metal prices could substantially boost margins & profits. The stock is up 25% in 2014 to near $4 a share but the shares are still down more than 60% from the $10 level it hit in 2011. The stock looks like it has established technical support at ~$2.50 (See Chart).
IAMGOLD Corp. (NYSE:IAG) is a mid-tier diversified gold & niobium miner based in Canada with assets in North America, Africa and South America. Its properties consist of high quality, long-lived assets. The company has taken steps, including suspending its dividend, recently to shore up its cash flow & balance sheet.
This miner has a nice little run in 2014 and is just above $4 a share now. However, IAG sold for over $15 a share as recently as late 2012. On a peak earnings basis, IAG is very cheap at just 5x the earnings it made in 2012 and 4x 2011's earnings. The company has also remained nicely profitable despite the huge drop in gold prices since peak prices soared over $1900/oz.
Gold production should be slightly higher in 2014 than 2013. With capital expenditures expected to fall 40% in the New Year, margins should improve. The miner is very leveraged to gold prices. If gold prices continue to surge, an investor should expect outsized gains from the stock. Finally, IAG sells for substantially below its book value.
Note: I own both of these mining stocks through long dated call spreads
Disclosure: I am long HL, IAG. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.