Media sources are reporting that a military junta has taken power in Burkina Faso following the arrest of interim President and Prime Minister. The transitional government has also been disbanded, only four weeks before elections (planned for October 11). The military guard that is leading the coup is the RSP (Régiment de sécurité présidentielle), loyal to the ousted leader Compaore who has fled to Ivory Coast almost a year ago.
Demands from the RSP have not yet been tabled. While there have been no reported impacts to mining operations, companies with exposure to Burkina Faso are likely to face headwinds in the near term. Among producing companies IAMGOLD and Endeavour Mining have the largest exposure to Burkina Faso at 45% and 32% of NAV, respectively.
The Canaccord Genuity Metals & Mining Team notes that for IAMGOLD, approximately 45% of NAV and 43% of YTD gold production is sourced from Burkina Faso and is its lowest cost owner-operated asset. Endeavour Mining is less exposed at 32% of NAV; however, only 13% of 2015’s estimated gold production is sourced from the country. In the Team’s opinion, Hounde is already heavily discounted by the market and a positive construction decision is unlikely in the current market environment. The bigger impact would be Youga which is in production but only 1% of NAV.
Endeavour has a solid operating base in Mali, Ghana, and Ivory Coast, and we believe that the coup should have minimal impact to the company in the near term. Streaming companies Franco-Nevada and Sandstorm Gold both have streams on True Gold’s Karma project in Burkina Faso; however, company-wide exposure for the streamers remains small. For Franco-Nevada, Karma represents 1.7% of NAV.
In Sandstorm’s valuation, Karma represents approximately 6% of NAV; however, this would decline to 4% if you net out the money that still needs to be paid to True Gold. If anything, this perfectly showcases what royalty/streaming companies are all about – a defense against government coups and instability and the general risk. Development companies Roxgold and Orezone have 100% exposure and may see development delays depending on how the coup impacts logistics and workers in the country (via general strikes, for instance).
Gold miner stocks are the cheapest relative to gold in more than three decades, but bottom fishing might not do you any good.
Barry Ritholtz contends that the relationship between gold prices and miner stocks has gone haywire since the advent of the SPDR Gold Shares exchange-traded fund (GLD) more than one decade ago:
“Gold miners were once a fair proxy for physical bullion. If it were impractical for you as a fund manager to own bars of gold, which entails transportation, storage and security, you had an easy alternative. You bought shares of the miners. The (theoretical) gold reserves they owned was a component of their book value, and was an indirect way to own gold with none of the other costs.
Similarly, if you were an individual investor, and you didn’t want to play the futures markets — high leverage and risk of losses beyond your original investment — you also could buy shares of the various miners.”
“The ETF killed the primary reason for owning gold miners. Why bother investing in a company saddled with the overhead cost of running a mine and error-prone management — all a drag on returns — when you could instantly buy a stake in gold without any of the complications? …
There may be some price at which the gold miners become attractive. But it seems like it will be impossible to undo the fact that the reason for owning the miners has been displaced by a less expensive, more efficient investment vehicle for gold.
In that case, good luck figuring out at what price the miners are actually cheap.”
This article was published on The Big Picture Blog of Barry Ridholtz -July , 2015
It is well worth reviewing and keeping on hand:
This was the week Greece inched closest to chaos, as a bank holiday and a technical default caused markets around the world to erupt in turmoil. They recovered somewhat Tuesday, and futures looked stronger Wednesday morning, but on Monday, the NASDAQ Composite Index lost 2.4 percent, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index lost 2.09 percent and the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1.95 percent. Volatility exploded, as the Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index surged 35 percent, its biggest increase in two years, to 18.85.
One would imagine that such a scenario might be constructive for gold. It has been called the best measure of fear, the only real currency, a refuge for those who plan for panic. So how is it doing these days? Spot prices were soft on Monday, despite the wild volatility in equities, drifting down a few bucks from about $1,180 an ounce to about $1,176. They fell a few dollars more yesterday, and are soft Wednesday.
I thought gold was an investor’s best friend during Armageddon.
I have kidded the goldbugs over the years, but the muted response to the latest crisis is surprising, even to a precious metal skeptic. Gold simply can’t find a bid.
This isn’t the sort of response we have come to expect from the “catastrophe metal.” Earlier this month, gold spiked to $1,202, from $1,172, raising hopes of a turnaround. The gold mavens began to dream of a new technical setup, perhaps even a resurrection of the currently deceased trend. There were renewed whispers about $5,000 price targets.
And then … nothing.
I have been writing critically about gold since it peaked in 2011. Its story has become an object lesson in how to manage your positions without letting emotion get the better of you.
Why is gold no longer responding to global catastrophes? Nobody knows for sure, but a few different theories might help to explain its behavior in the most recent crisis:
1) The old narrative has failed. Without a new and improved rationale, buyers aren’t motivated to accumulate more gold.
2) The U.S. economy has slowly improved, and much of the rest of the world is healing, too.
3) Other asset classes have been far more productive and rewarding investments in the last five years.
The failure of the classic gold narrative, recounted in great detail last year, is one explanation. The storyline was essentially a clever sales pitch filled with specific frightening details — the Fed was going to cause hyperinflation, the dollar would collapse, and so on. All of this proved to be false.
Further reducing enthusiasm for gold is the gradual improvement of the U.S. economy. Despite forecasts of imminent collapse, the major economic data — including employment, wages, spending, housing, autos and consumer sentiment — have all trended higher over the last five years. Tales of an impending depression were greatly exaggerated.
Then there are other asset classes. U.S stocks are up 167 percent over the last 5 years. China’s stock market, despite the recent 20 percent drop, is still up almost 10 percent for the year, and it has been on fire the last 2 years.
Each of these is a possible explanation for the lack of response to the Greek crisis. Perhaps a default to the International Monetary Fund is no big deal, and gold has no reason to rally.
Regardless, gold seems to going nowhere fast. Feel free to send me an e-mail explaining how wrong and stupid I am. I have an archive of all the messages warning me that gold would teach me a lesson in humility. “You’ll see” these e-mails smugly assure me, “your comeuppance will be here any day now.” My plan was to respond to each on its fifth-year anniversary with a chart showing the performance of gold versus all other asset classes and the details of how much money has been lost.
What once seemed like a snarky and amusing idea just looks cruel today.
Gold teaches the careful observer many lessons — about narratives, emotion, managing positions, leverage, one-way, can’t miss trades, the efficiency of markets, and story-tellers with product for sale. This is why you should never ever drink the Kool-Aid.
Astute traders ignore these lessons at their own risk.
While the analysts expect gold will probably end up around $1,050, they do say an interest rate hike in the U.S., another correction in China’s stock market, and further selling of reserves by central banks could result in that worst-case scenario of $800 (and some very grumpy gold bugs).
Why the end of the era? Here’s what the analysts say:
But price stability in Precious Metals has ended. Indeed, gold and silver prices have been in trend decline since May. Why? The passing of deflation risk, anticipation of the US Federal Reserve’s first interest rate hike, another debt resolution for Greece, and the collapse in China’s equity markets (prompting loss-covering asset sales) – have all hit these prices over 8-10 weeks. So the PBoC’s announcement last week, about China’s surprisingly low official gold holdings, was really just the latest in a string of bearish events. It’s possible that the next short-term driver in metal markets will be declining oil prices (WTI & Brent down 10-16% in 4 weeks).
from Royal Bank of Canada
July 21, 2015 Precious Metals & Minerals NA Gold & Silver Equities: Stress Testing the Balance Sheets (3) Equity value erodes below $1,100/oz. With gold having dipped below $1,100/oz and silver below $15.00/oz, we have once again run a balance sheet sensitivity analysis for the North American listed precious metal producers in our coverage universe over the H2/2015 to 2018 period. As highlighted in previous research, the difference for the equities in the current gold price sell-off, versus prior price declines, is that the precious metals producers now have significantly greater levels of debt (Exhibit 2).
In conclusion, the companies best positioned to operate in a $1,000/oz price environment are the royalty-streaming companies Franco-Nevada, Royal Gold, Silver Wheaton, and Osisko Gold Royalties.
The gold producers that are best positioned to withstand a sub-$1,100/oz gold price are Acacia, Alamos, Centamin, Fresnillo, Goldcorp, Goldfields, Klondex, Newmont, Randgold, SEMAFO, and Tahoe (Exhibit 1).
While a number of companies have already cut or eliminated their dividends, we believe Barrick, Centerra, Goldcorp, Goldfields, Pan American, and Yamana could reduce their dividends. Stress testing at lower gold prices after growth capital is frozen. Our base case is $1,100/oz gold & $14.50/oz silver with scenarios at $1,000/oz & $13.25/oz and $1,200/oz & $15.75/oz.
We provide a onepage summary for 35 gold producers (Page 5) that includes: (1) annual operating forecasts, liquidity estimates and key credit ratios; and (2) a discussion of our scenario analysis for each company. We assume that the companies do not draw down on their existing short-term credit facilities, as many banks are likely reviewing the credit risk of these facilities. We model similar levels of sustaining capital and assume that new mine development capital is suspended, with the exception of development capital that is more than 50% complete, such as Goldcorp’s Cochenour project and Eldorado’s Olympias and Skouries projects. Stress test highlights $1,100/oz as a critical level •
At $1,100/oz gold and $14.50/oz silver, the North American gold sector remains ex-growth. In addition to the cost-cutting measures that have occurred to date, producers will need to place their highercost mines in harvest and accelerated closure mode or on care and maintenance. We would expect to see a reduction in management and board compensation and the use of private aircraft travel curtained. And below $1,100/oz, we believe some companies could see their lines of credit reduced or withdrawn, and companies with elevated levels of debt may be forced to hedge revenues, sell streams on mining assets, and/or raise distressed equity.
At $1,100/oz, companies that would need to continue making cuts to discretionary and fixed costs to improve their balance sheets include AngloGold, Barrick Gold, Hochschild, IAMGOLD, Kinross, Pan American, Primero, Teranga, and Timmins. • At $1,000/oz gold and $13.25/oz silver, we would expect mine production to begin to contract as mines are placed on care and maintenance or moved into accelerated closure. In addition to the cost-cutting measures mentioned above, we believe a number of the gold producers would need to consider mergers to capture operating synergies or other financial benefits. At $1,000/oz, all of the gold/silver producers in our coverage universe would continue to make cuts to operating and discretionary costs and the most leveraged companies would seek alternative sources of equity. • At $1,200/oz gold and $15.75/oz silver, we believe most of the sector can sustain their current operating mines, but mines with AISC above $1,100/oz would likely go into “harvest mode” with significant development capital spending deferred. In addition, at $1,200/oz the producers can still implement cash-saving measures, with further cuts to G&A, exploration, and sustaining capital. Priced as of prior trading day’s
$1,100 gold is a critical level for North American precious metals companies
At $1,100/oz gold, most of the companies in our coverage universe are expected to continue to cut G&A, exploration, and sustaining capital spending. We could also see producers begin an accelerated closure process for their higher-cost, shorter-life mines by spending on reclamation rather than sustaining capital and mining out residual reserves over a 2- to 3- year period. Another alternative would be to place mines on care & maintenance, which would still require ongoing security/maintenance costs, although this would avoid burning cash for longer reserve life mines during a period of high sustaining capital spending associated with major waste stripping or underground development.
However, at or near $1,000/oz gold, we would expect companies to announce that their high-cost mines are being placed on accelerated closure, even mines that previously had long reserve lives given the potential for significant cash burn. We believe that most of the gold and silver producers in our coverage universe would struggle in a $1,000 gold environment if they do not defer discretionary costs, cut capital, and close cash-burning mines.
The companies that currently have the highest AISC costs include AngloGold, Centerra Gold, Detour Gold, IAMGOLD, Kinross, Newmont, Perseus, Pan American, Silver Standard, Teranga, and Timmins Gold. High-quality producers and royalty-streaming companies We believe the current gold price pullback presents an opportunity to buy gold mining equities with strong balance sheets that offer an attractive risk-reward.
In our view, in a sub- $1,100 gold price environment, the most resilient North American listed gold producers with solid yet flexible business plans and strong balance sheets would be Acacia, Alamos, Centamin, Fresnillo, Goldcorp, Goldfields, Klondex, Newmont, Randgold, SEMAFO, and Tahoe (Exhibit 1). These companies have low net debt, a low capital spending to cash flow ratio, and low-cost mines. The gold companies with the most robust business models and in a sharply lower gold price environment are the royalty and streaming companies, including Franco-Nevada, Royal Gold, Silver Wheaton, and Osisko, which have little or no debt and minimal operating and capital exposure. Exhibit 1: NA Precious Metal Producers leverage versus AISC margins clearly show
Gold miners on ‘knife edge’ as slump wipes out $19-billion
Published Wednesday, Jul. 22, 2015 6:40AM EDT
Last updated Wednesday, Jul. 22, 2015 12:51PM EDT
Gold’s slump to a five-year low this month is squeezing the world’s biggest producers of the precious metal, already struggling to rein in costs and pay down debt.
A rout in bullion has sapped investor confidence in gold miners, sending the benchmark 30-member Philadelphia Stock Exchange Gold and Silver Index of the largest producers to its lowest since 2001. A five-day losing streak through Monday wiped $19-billion off the index, which includes Barrick Gold Corp. and Newmont Mining Corp.
Reuters Jul. 22 2015, 6:27 AM EDT
India goes cold on gold
The metal’s plunge is eroding profits at mines across the globe and stressing balance sheets in an industry where the biggest producers are weighed down by a record debt load of $31.5-billion. Gold futures in New York are heading for their longest losing streak since 1996 amid increasing speculation U.S. interest rates will climb this year, weakening the appeal of bullion.
“The whole industry is on a bit of a knife-edge,” said James Sutton, a portfolio manager at JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s $2-billion Natural Resources Fund who is underweight gold stocks. “They are making very, very small margins. Really everybody in the industry needs higher prices. You’re going to see some companies run into trouble.”
The industry, on average, needs about $1,200 an ounce to break even when all costs are considered, according to Sutton. Bullion for immediate delivery declined to $1,086.18 an ounce on Monday, the lowest since March 2010. It fell 0.9 per cent to $1,091.20 an ounce at 2:56 p.m. in London.
Wood Mackenzie Ltd. said Wednesday that about 10 per cent of gold miners would be loss-making with bullion at $1,100 an ounce.
Investors have soured on gold miners as they battled to contain ballooning costs and the outlook for prices dimmed. Some producers have been obliged to enact bailout plans. Petropavlovsk Plc, a Russian miner once valued at more than $3-billion, was forced to tap shareholders for emergency funds earlier this year after its stock slid 99 per cent in five years.
“There’s a lot of pain to be taken in this sector,” Clive Burstow, who helps manage $44-billion at Baring Asset Management in London, said by phone. “Everyone has had to rationalize balance sheets, you’ve seen management turnover, you’ve seen dividends being either pared back or cut.”
Companies like Randgold Resources Ltd., a producer in West Africa, and Vancouver-based Goldcorp Inc. are best-positioned to weather the price slump, Burstow said.
Randgold, which built its business making its own discoveries in Mali, Senegal and Ivory Coast, has a war chest of at least $500-million to buy assets from distressed rivals.
“Another $50 off the gold price and this industry is toast,” Randgold Chief Executive Officer Mark Bristow said July 15, when bullion traded at about $1,150 an ounce.
The Philadelphia Stock Exchange Gold and Silver Index posted its biggest one-day fall in seven years on Monday, with Toronto-based Barrick declining to the lowest since 1986. The benchmark has tumbled 29 per cent in 2015, led by North American miners, with IAMGold Corp. down 51 per cent, Yamana Gold Inc. 48 per cent and Kinross Gold Corp. 41 per cent.
“This is a correction that has to take its course,” Markus Bachmann, CEO of resources-focused investor Craton Capital, said in a phone interview from Johannesburg. “Corrections do not stop halfway. Fundamentals do not matter. A lot of it is sentiment driven.”
Prices could fall below $1,000 an ounce for the first time since 2009, Jeffrey Currie, Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s New York– based head of commodities research, told Bloomberg in an interview Tuesday.
“Gold is on the ropes,” Ross Norman, CEO of dealer Sharps Pixley, said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. “I suspect we’ll have another bear raid before long. I don’t think the bears have finished their game, they’ll keep punching it until it stops moving.
If only gold mine operators could flatten their debt mountains as easily as they can the real things.
Mining companies built up record borrowings to boost gold output during a 12-year bull market in the metal that stopped dead in 2011. The 42 percent slump in prices since then leaves them effectively servicing the debt with devalued currency.
Output that might have fallen as gold sank has continued on to all-time highs as producers need to generate enough cash from sales at lower prices to keep up payments on what they owe.
That’s squeezed profitability and share prices, with a benchmark index of 30 of the biggest precious-metals miners falling to the lowest levels since 2001, when bullion was barely a quarter of its current rate of $1,110 an ounce.
“The industry is in a shocking state,” said Mark Bristow, head of Randgold Resources Ltd., the producer with the best share performance in the past decade. “Everyone is still focused on production and not on profitability.”
Growth in output has exacerbated an oversupply that makes a recovery in the bullion price harder to achieve, Bristow said.
Debt held by 15 of the biggest producers including Barrick Gold Corp. and Goldcorp Inc. hit a record $31.5 billion at the end of the first quarter, up from less than $2 billion in 2005, according to data compiled by Bloomberg Intelligence.
That was spurred by the dash for growth when prices were rising, including $8.5 billion for Barrick’s mine in the Andes mountains and C$8.2 billion ($6.3 billion) for Kinross Gold Corp.’s bet on Mauritania. In the past decade, world output expanded 24 percent to last year’s 3,114 metric tons.
“The whole industry is being encouraged to continue to live on hope,” Bristow said. “The question is how much cash flow do you need to expunge the debt? There’s nothing really left to create value for shareholders.”
Precious metals were routed as gold sank to the lowest in more than five years on prospects for higher U.S. rates and after China said it held less metal in reserves than some analysts expected. Platinum plunged to the lowest since 2009, while silver and palladium lost more than 2 percent.
Bullion for immediate delivery tumbled as much as 4.2 percent to $1,086.18 an ounce, the lowest price since March 2010, and traded at $1,106.90 at 10:54 a.m. in Singapore. Miners’ equities fell as prices extended a fourth weekly loss.
Gold has fallen out of favor with investors as Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen prepares to raise rates this year, boosting the dollar. While China updated its bullion reserves on Friday for the first time since 2009, the 57 percent increase to 1,658 metric tons was smaller than had been estimated. Gold’s plunge raises the prospect of third straight annual drop.
“The market is in one of its bear phases, where any news is bearish news,” said Jack A. Bass Vancouver-based managing partner at Jack A. Bass and Associates, predicting that gold may drop as low as $1,050 an ounce. “People had expected China’s holdings to be higher,” said Bass , author of The Gold Investors Handbook. His managed accounts hold no gold or gold miners.
Newcrest Mining Ltd., Australia’s largest producer, lost 7.1 percent to A$12.26 in Sydney, while Evolution Mining Ltd. slumped 13 percent and Saracen Mineral Holdings Ltd. tumbled 13 percent. In Hong Kong, Zijin Mining Group Co. lost 3.8 percent.
“Gold has generally been suppressed by the ongoing expectation that the dollar may get stronger should the U.S. Fed raise interest rates,” Wallace Ng, a trader at Gemsha Metals Co., said from Shanghai. “But this sudden drop during Asian trading seemed to have been triggered by some stop-loss selloffs that have nothing to do with fundamentals.”
Some investors are turning away from precious metals amid a wider retreat in raw materials. The Bloomberg Commodity Index dropped for a fifth day on Monday to as low as 96.6395, heading for the longest run of declines since March.
China bought about 604 tons of gold since 2009, second only to Russia, according to data from the central bank and International Monetary Fund. The total holdings make China, the world’s biggest producer, the world’s fifth-biggest gold owner.
Prospects for a U.S. rate increase strengthened the dollar, hurting the allure of gold, which generally offers returns only through price gains. The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index rose as much as 0.1 percent to the highest level since April 13.
“I’m still bearish on gold,” said Barnabas Gan, an economist at Singapore-based Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp., the most accurate precious metals forecaster in the eight quarters to March, according to Bloomberg rankings. “For the year-end, I’m still looking at $1,050 an ounce. The bearish outlook is underpinned by the likelihood of the U.S. Fed rate hike.”
Holdings in gold-backed exchange-traded products have shrunk as U.S. equities rallied and the dollar climbed. Global holdings were at 1,585.96 tons on Thursday, down from a record 2,632.5 tons in December 2012.
Gold futures retreated as much as 4.6 percent to $1,080 an ounce and traded at $1,109.50 on the Comex in New York. Money managers are holding the smallest net-bullish bet on gold since the U.S. government data begins in 2006.
Platinum for immediate delivery dropped as much as 4.7 percent to $947.38 an ounce, the lowest since January 2009, and traded at $962.90. The metal is 20 percent lower this year.
Spot silver lost as much as 2.3 percent to $14.5449 an ounce, the lowest since December 2014, and was at $14.6678. Palladium fell as much as 3 percent to $596.75 an ounce, the lowest since October 2012.