Barrick May Soar 64%, Besting Newmont

 |  Includes: ABX, NEM
by: Takeover Analyst

Barrick (NYSE:ABX) has been one of my favorites for some time now, and this sentiment is shared on the Street. The stock is rated near a "strong buy" versus a "hold" for Newmont (NYSE:NEM). Based on my review of the fundamentals and multiples analysis, I believe Barrick could be one of the top stock performers for 2012.

From a multiples perspective, Barrick is incredibly cheap. It trades at only a respective 10.8x and 7.5x past and forward earnings, with a dividend yield of 1.3%. Newmont, on the other hand, trades at a respective 12.6x and 10.9x past and forward earnings, with a dividend yield of 2.4%. To put this in greater context, consider that Barrick is valued at less than half of its 3 Digit MG Group PE multiple.

At its fourth-quarter earnings call, Barrick's management noted successful results in several areas:

"I think, overall, we've made progress in a number of areas. First, I think we're pleased that we were able to meet our production and cost targets for the year. We produced just under 7.7 million ounces of gold at a cash cost of $460 per ounce. Total cost basis and on a net cash cost basis, our cash cost is around $339 per ounce. And I think that compares very favorably with the other senior gold producers and positions us around the bottom third of the cost curve.

With the rise of the gold price, we've had a significant expansion in our margins, and when you apply that to our production, the result was record financial results. We had adjusted earnings of $4.7 billion for the year, which was around $4.67 per share. We had EBITDA of $8.4 billion, and our return on equity was 22%".

Barrick's adjusted diluted 4Q EPS of $1.17 was 7.1% below the Bloomberg consensus, but gold sales of 1.9M oz beat expectations. Furthermore, Barrick's major projects are all on track in terms of the 2012 outlook. Gold production this year is estimated at 7.3M-7.8M oz, with a net cash cost between $400-$450/oz; copper production is estimated at 550M-600M lbs, with a net cash cost between $1.90-$2.20/lb. Capex was guided at upwards of $2.8B, which showcases management's confidence about the fundamentals. Barrick has a management team equipped with deep industry knowledge and a leading balance sheet.

Consensus estimates for Barrick's EPS forecast that it will grow by 18.4% to $5.53 in 2012, grow by 16.6% in 2013, and then fall by 15.3% in 2014. Assuming a multiple of 12x and a conservative 2013 EPS of $6.41, the rough intrinsic value of the stock is $76.92. This implies that the company may surge by as much as 63.6%.

Newmont delivered disappointing production and cost guidance. Mid-point gold and copper production is estimated at 5.2M oz and 205M lbs, respectively. Furthermore, 60% of the $3B-$3.3B capex program will be directed towards growth initiatives, such as the Conga and Akyen projects. While an impressive project pipeline will help drive value creation, much of this "confidence" has already been factored into the stock price.

Consensus estimates for Newmont's EPS forecast that it will grow by 20.3% to $4.63 in FY2011, and then by 17.5% and 8.3% in the following two years. Assuming a multiple of 13x and a conservative 2013 EPS of $5.41, the rough intrinsic value of the stock is $70.33, implying 18.3% upside.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, but may initiate a long position in ABX over the next 72 hours.