Sean Brodrick is hawking not a subscription this time, but a one-time publication he calls The Goldstone Strike Report.
In this report, he claims to have the “greatest gold arbitrage play of the century” … a company that has benefitted by the fact that “The world’s richest country is practically giving away its gold at $287 per ounce.”
So who is it? Well, that’s why we’re here — to figure it out for you.
And no, we’re not going to give you the full “Guide to Precious Metals in 2014” or whatever other goodies Sean throws in with this special report. Heck, we probably also can’t tell you anywhere near as much about the teased stock as he can … and since it’s a mining stock, I will probably stop talking about it pretty quick before it gives me a headacwehe (our mining columnist, Myron Martin, is off at PDAC now — maybe he’ll chime in on this one if it catches his eye … once we get too far into talking “grammes/tonne” I begin to drift off).
But yes, we can identify the stock for you, give you the basic info, and let you research it yourself. No charge (though we do love our paying members, the irreplaceable Irregulars).
So what’s Broderick’s “Goldstone Strike” pick? Well, for that we delve into the clues he provides to whet your appetite:
“I know you probably think this is crazy.
“Why would a country sell gold at a 78% discount?
“But I’ll explain in a moment what I mean by this and why this is happening.
“Do keep in mind: It is ‘giving away’ only a very small amount of its holdings at this cheap price.
“And there’s a very good chance this price could go up in the next two weeks.
“So only a limited number of people will be able to “get their hands on” this dirt-cheap gold.
“But the good news is, since you’re reading this presentation, you could be among the first – and you could take all the cheap gold you want.”
That’s just silly. He’s teasing a mining stock, in case you haven’t yet guessed that far, and it will go up or down based on the market’s assessment of its risks and opportunities, loosely influenced by the amount of gold it finds, produces and sells. It’s not a “limited offer” for a few special people to “get their hands on” gold at $287 an ounce. That’s their assessment of how the company is being valued for this gold under ground — and, obviously, gold that’s distributed across an underground rock formation at a few grams per ton of rock is worth a lot less than the gold that’s been turned into a nice, shiny bar or piece of jewelry… the company will not suddenly become valued as if that gold had been produced and was sitting in the CEO’s office.
So once we uncover the name and tell you about it, feel free to take your time — in most cases where gold miners are not in the midst of a significant catalyst (a new discovery, new production, acquisition, etc.), the calculus is pretty simple: if gold goes up, the stock will go up more; if gold goes down, the stock will go down more. That’s the inherent leverage of mining stocks — and when the calculus fails, it’s usually on the upside because costs went up or because the company screwed up, got unlucky, failed to get a permit, or simply didn’t get much respect, I can’t think of many gold miners where the impact of leverage wasn’t felt swiftly and fiercely on the downside over the past year.
Here’s a bit about why Sean Brodrick thinks his favorite gold stocks will be soaring, to provide a smidge more background:
“Highly respected contrarian Jim Grant recently said:
‘I think Gold Mining shares – which are universally despised – represent a call on the surviving monetary asset and is one area of absolute compelling value.’
“And the world’s top hedge fund manager George Soros has purchased $25 million in call options for gold miners.”
That quote from Jim Grant is from a CNBC interview almost exactly a year ago … the stories about Soros dedicating $25 million to buying options on gold stocks were published back in May of 2013. So no, you won’t be “among the first” to hear these things or to learn about the “big money” from this particular ad… but that doesn’t mean the idea isn’t sensible, just that you shouldn’t think you’re close enough to step on Grant’s or Soros’ heels.
Which is probably fine, since the gold stock indices (GDX for the biggies, GDXJ for the smaller miners) are both down ~30% over the past year and 10%+ since last May. And lots of the genuinely tiny gold miners are down far more than that in a year (though gold stocks have bounced back a bit so far in 2014).
Here’s some more of their big-picture argument about gold shooting higher, most of which will sound quite familiar:
“Without question, gold will soar higher as the fear of inflation, the weak dollar, the uncertain economy and the gold shortage surges throughout the world…
“And those fears are driving demand for gold to unprecedented levels…
“The Chinese government is encouraging its citizens to hold gold, not dollars. This year, China could snatch up anywhere from 1,000 tons to 1,500 tons, which would be more than half of annual supply.
“The world’s central banks are stockpiling gold. Since 2011, central banks have bought 1,177.7 tons of gold.
“… huge momentum on gold is building now, with big names like George Soros buying in.
“But why isn’t gold shooting up now?
“Simply put, the investing masses aren’t buying… yet.”
The implication of the chart they show in the ad is that every time gold has collapsed by 40% or so over the last few decades, it has bounced back sharply higher … and they say that “the markets are gearing up for another triple-digit jump.”
Which, of course, would move many gold mining stocks sharply higher — those stocks ran into serious trouble over the past year or two as financiers became more wary and the cost of mining climbed and climbed, particularly for those firms who were running full steam ahead at developing projects that lose money or are marginally profitable with gold under $1,200 an ounce (somewhere between $900-1,200 is widely considered to be the “real” all-in break-even point for many substantial gold mines after a decade-long bull market that brought massive cost inflation and the development of lower-grade or harder-to-develop mines).
Enough big picture stuff? Right, let’s get into which mining stock specifically is being touted with this “Goldstone Strike Report” … here are the clues:
The gold is in “the wealthiest country in the world” as described thusly:
“Over the last few years, one country quietly became the wealthiest country in the world… with a mineral wealth of $24 trillion.
“That’s more than the GDP of China, Brazil, Russia and South Africa. It’s almost as much as the GDP of both the United States and Europe combined.
“Yet the country remains remarkably sheltered… Very few people know it’s so rich.
“You see… rather than stockpiling paper money like dollars, euros, or yuan, this country amassed its wealth in hard assets.”
Well, the reason so few people know that it’s so rich is that it’s also so poor — and war-torn, and undeveloped. The country being teased is the Democratic Republic of The Congo, often abbreviated DR Congo or DRC. Next to the far smaller Republic of Congo, and formerly called Zaire, the DRC is now the second largest country in Africa (they moved up a spot when the Sudan was cut in two), and remains one of the poorest and most dangerous … but it is also home to incredible natural resources, including the world’s largest reserve of cobalt as well as lots of gold, diamonds and copper, and huge agricultural potential.
Lately, the UN has been involved in trying to get the rebels to lay down their arms in the most recent version of civil war in the country, with much of the violence in the east of the country bordering Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan, Uganda, Zambia … well, you get the idea. It’s huge and minerally rich, but not a safe place. There are perhaps a dozen different rebel groups in the eastern half of the country, the government and army appear to be pretty much a basketcase, and the population is enduring a humanitarian crisis. But apparently someone’s mining gold somewhere. Most of the cobalt is in the southeast, the richest gold is in the northeast. Generally speaking.
So which DRC miner is being teased? Here are our clues:
“Its government acquired a stake in a 709-square-mile track of land in a remote region of the country.
“Though it knew the land held some gold, it didn’t know how much. And it didn’t want to go through the trouble of digging it up.
“After years of letting this gold sit there, the country decided to offer a portion of the land to one company for a cheap $244 million….
“It discovered that this boring piece of land altogether holds as much as 10 million ounces of gold… worth more than $13 BILLION in today’s market….
“The company’s shares are on track to trade 50% cheaper than all other miners…
“And when you consider its current stock price and the amount of gold this deposit has, it’s as though you’re actually paying just $287 per ounce of gold for your portion of this reserve….
“One of the market’s biggest gold miners calls it “the world’s largest untapped gold deposit.”
“But time is of the essence…
“The mine just recently had its first successful gold pour.”
And apparently this company owns more than just “the world’s largest untapped gold deposit” … there’s more!
“In addition to its proven $13 billion Goldstone Strike, this firm has several other mines currently in production this year.
“Combined, these finds alone contain over 27.21 million ounces of gold reserves and resources… worth over $38 billion in today’s market.”
And, to top it all off, it’s apparently a safe mining stock … here’s how they explain that bit:
“The Safest Mining Stock in the ENTIRE Market
“In a study conducted by CIBC World Markets, analysts pored through a long list of mining companies in the market to see which had given the highest total return in recent years…
“By far, the top performer was this under-the-radar company… With a staggering 763% return on equity.”
So who are they talking about? This one, sez the Mighty Mighty Thinkolator, is mining giant Randgold Resources (GOLD).
GOLD is a $7.5 billion company, not the largest miner in the world but probably in the top ten, roughly the same size as fellow African miner AngloGold Ashanti (AU), which whom it’s also partnering on the mine being teased here: The Kibali mine in the Democratic Republic of The Congo. That mine is apparently on track to produce 550,000 ounces of gold this year (that’s a lot, probably only 10-20 mines globally produce more), it’s still being built up but did have “first pour” back in September and has continued to advance production as they begin to develop the underground portion of the mine. The mine is operated by Randgold, GOLD and AU each own 45% and the government owns the remaining 10%.
And yes, the “track”[sic] of land on which Kibali was found is indeed 709 square miles, though they’re on the metric system so they refer to it as 1,836 square kilometers … it’s in an area commonly called the Kilo-Moto Gold Belt or the Moto Goldfields in the far northeast of the DRC, a greenstone belt.
And GOLD has indeed been one of the strongest large gold miners in terms of shareholder return, with some expectation that this will continue … though it likely gets discounted somewhat whenever African risks are generalized by investors (it’s not dependent on South Africa like Anglogold Ashanti is, so they don’t have the same labor unrest, but I’m sure they have plenty of risks of their own — their other significant assets are in Mali, Ivory Coast, and Senegal (all in West Africa, for the geographically challenged). Kibali is the largest in terms of reserves, but even without it they produced more than 900,000 ounces of gold last year so this isn’t a one-mine company. They’ve grown production pretty consistently in recent years and they’re on track, they still say, to exceed a million ounces of gold production in 2014.
Will that be enough to make shareholders happy? Well, they’re relatively low cost for a large miner, so it probably depends on the gold price. That bit about Randgold being the safest miner, built on the fact that they provided 763% return on equity over a multi-year period, requires your own interpretation of what “safe” means. They are growing production, and they have grown production without blowing out their costs, which is really what generates returns for mining companies — the 763% number comes from a CIBC analysis of miners from 2005-2012, you can see the basics in this article, and those same analysts did keep Randgold at the top of their list for future potential … here’s an excerpt from the Financial Post article reporting those results:
“Ultimately, the study shows the key to success is simply low-cost growth….
“So who is poised to deliver going forward? The analysts identified 19 precious companies in their coverage universe with projected output growth of between 20% and 300%. After applying a cut-off 2014 production cost of US$1,000 per ounce for gold and US$17 an ounce for silver, only five gold companies are left (Goldcorp, Yamana, Randgold, Osisko Mining Corp. and Centamin PLC). They pointed out Osisko and Centamin are risky calls because of low grade and political risk, respectively. That leaves only three picks in the gold space.”
So GOLD does appear to be in better shape than some of the large miners — it won’t generate returns of thousands of percent unless the gold price goes crazy, but that’s because it’s already large and producing and already has a market cap of $7 billion. And it has been outperforming its peers — over the last several years GOLD has gradually moved off track with the GDX index (of which it is a part), so over the last few months as gold has rebounded the stock has more or less tracked right along with GDX, but if you go back further it has performed substantially better — flat over the last year, instead of down 30% like the average big miner or down 10% like the actual metal. That’s unusual, and it’s apparently all because of the substantial production growth, the relatively low cost operations, and the potential future growth from Kibali in the DRC. You probably can’t call it a “value” stock with a PE of 27, but it is at least profitable (some of the big miners have not been profitable lately, thanks in part to big writedowns of high-cost projects).
Does that mean you should buy it? Well, that’s up to you. After this quick look it’s one of the ones I’d look at first if I were going to buy a large mining stock, but that’s probably not something I’m going to do (I generally prefer the more passive royalty stocks) … and it’s not hard to imagine them having some significant issues, in the DRC or elsewhere, that bring hiccups to the stock price. Have an opinion on Randgold Resources? Feel free to spout it out with a comment below.
P.S. Yes, I did notice that they teased five other picks in this ad too — Should be able to name most of those, if not all, by tomorrow if you’re interested.
P.P.S. Just realized I categorized this article with Brodrick’s old newsletter, the Red-Hot Global Resources letter from Weiss Research. It appears that he has moved over to the Agoraplex and is working with the Oxford Club now, on a new letter called Gold & Resource Trader. Haven’t otherwise written about that one yet, but I’m sure it will come up eventually.