What's a Company's Gold Worth?

By: Louis James & Andrey Dashkov | Fri, Jan 29, 2010
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At any given time, there's a single international spot price for an ounce of refined gold. Gold is priced in U.S. dollars: $1,076.50 per ounce as we go to press. But what about the gold an exploration or mining company has in the ground - how do we value that?

Given sufficient data, you can estimate a reasonable net present value (NPV) for a project and deduce what each of the company's ounces should be worth. To do this, you need to know annual output of the proposed mine, proposed capital expenditures, energy and other costs, and many more things. For most deposits held by the junior companies we tend to follow, there's just not enough data available.

Another approach is to compare the value the market is giving a company per ounce of gold in hand against the average value the market gives companies with similar ounces.

The most obvious way to define "similar" ounces in the ground is to use the three resource and two mining reserve categories defined by Canada's National Instrument NI43-101 regulations - the industry standard. We combine these into three broad groups, as we believe the market tends to do as well:

So, what does the market give a company, on average, for an Inferred ounce of gold? M&I? P&P?

To answer this, we combed through every company listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) and the TSX Venture Exchange (TSX-V) and pulled out the ones with 43-101-compliant gold resource estimates (or mostly gold) - no silver, copper, etc. Of these, we kept only those with resources that fall almost entirely into only one of our three broad groups: Inferred, M&I, and P&P. In other words, we did not include companies with half Inferred and half M&I resources (though we did include companies with mostly P&P reserves, because most are producers - or soon will be - and are regarded that way). That left us with about 90 companies to calculate some averages on.

That's not a large sampling universe, and we had to make some judgment calls when it came to defining what companies should fall in each category, but it's what we have. So take these averages with a large grain of rock salt, but here they are:

Armed with this information, if you didn't know anything else about an M&I resource (political risk, type of ore, etc.), but you saw that the company that owned it was trading at $10 per ounce, whereas its peers are valued at around $30 an ounce, you can conclude that there must either be something very wrong with the project or the stock is a great speculation. If there's nothing wrong with the project, there's an implied growth potential in the stock price, based on the difference between what the company is getting per ounce and the market average for similar ounces. In this case, it would be:

$20 x # Ounces ÷ # shares.

As a matter of perspective, a few years ago the market was giving a company about $25 per ounce Inferred, $50 for M&I, and about $100 for P&P. Then, when gold ran up over $1,000 before the crash of 2008, these valuations went out the window, and some companies were getting over $100 for merely Inferred ounces - do we have your attention now?

Conversely, just after the crash, there were companies having a hard time getting $10 for M&I. That was clearly a sign that it was time to buy, and we did, with gusto.

It's also why, when the Mania phase gets underway, we'll be selling into it as gold approaches the top; we will not be attempting to time the top. It's far better in this business to be a day early than a day late.

Today, the market is willing to pay more for advanced and producing stories ($160 P&P) but is discounting earlier-stage stories, hence the lower M&I valuation than in previous years ($30). These figures will change again as the market's appetite for risk changes.

Now let's compare these numbers to those of a few sample gold companies. This table includes the market capitalizations (share price x # shares) of our sample gold companies expressed in USD (because that's what gold is priced in), not the usual CAD. The second column has the value of each company's resources, as per the average numbers given above (i.e., [# Inf. ounces x $20] + [# M&I ounces x $30] +[# P&P ounces x $160]). The implied growth is a simple ratio of these two numbers, expressed as a percentage.

  MCap (US$M) Value of Gold
Underground (US$M)
Implied Growth
(%)

Luiri Gold (LGL.V)

18.6

17.44

-6.2%

Gabriel Resources (GBU.T)

1,420.5

2,230.13

57.0%

Coral Gold Resources (CLH.V)

16.3

68.0

317.2%

Gabriel and Coral Gold look pretty cheap, Luiri slightly expensive, but in most cases there are good reasons for this. For example, these averages by confidence category ignore the typically greater cost of extracting gold from low-grade sulfide ore, as compared to high-grade oxide ore.

We don't follow the companies in the table above -- they are just examples -- but here's our take on their implied growth ratios:

Bottom Line

We often get asked what an Inferred, or M&I, or P&P ounce is worth in the ground. The $20, $30, and $160 figures are only rough guides, and you must consider the reasons why some ounces are given more or less by the market, but they're a good starting point.

What makes Casey's International Speculator so different from other investment newsletters? You don't just get stock picks, you get an education... and before you know it, you'll be recognized as the mining expert in your social circle. And most likely as "the wealthy guy" as well. For more on how Canadian junior mining stocks can literally make fortunes for smart investors, click here.

 


 

Louis James

Author: Louis James

Louis James
Senior Editor Metals Division
Casey Research, LLC.

Louis James

Louis James' background in physics, economics, and technical writing prepared him well for his role as senior editor of the International Speculator and Casey Investment Alert. Like Doug Casey, Louis constantly travels the world, visiting highly prospective geological targets, grilling management and company geologists, and interviewing natives in a variety of languages to find out what they really think (he's fluent in French and Spanish, and speaks a little German and Russian).

Whether it's days of back-to-back meetings with mining company executives in Vancouver, pounding on rocks in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, examining drill core in Argentina, or eating food with names he can't pronounce with local miners in China, Louis is constantly looking for the next double-your-money winner.

He evaluates dozens of companies every month, conducts due diligence of only the best, and then compares notes with Doug in order to bring only those most likely to provide rapid high returns to our subscribers' attention. Louis also reads all the press releases, financial statements, and an enormous quantity of related information to keep track of all of our mineral companies and has become something of a walking database on same.

Information contained herein is obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but its accuracy cannot be guaranteed. The information contained herein is not intended to constitute individual investment advice and is not designed to meet your personal financial situation. The opinions expressed herein are those of the publisher and are subject to change without notice. The information herein may become outdated and there is no obligation to update any such information. Doug Casey, entities in which he has an interest, employees, officers, family, and associates may from time to time have positions in the securities or commodities covered in these publications. Corporate policies are in effect that attempt to avoid potential conflicts of interest, and resolve conflicts of interest that do arise in a timely fashion. No portion of this web site may be extracted or reproduced without permission of the publisher.

Copyright © 2006-2013 Casey Research, LLC.

Andrey Dashkov

Author: Andrey Dashkov

Andrey Dashkov
Research Analyst
Casey Research, LLC.

Andrey Dashkov

Andrey Dashkov, a native Russian, studies international finance and banking at Belarus State Economics University. In 2007, he met Louis James who was impressed with his enthusiasm and diligent research skills. Since then, Andrey has been researching global inflation, base metal and stock data, as well as company news for Casey Research. Thanks to his language skills, Andrey is an invaluable member of the team when it comes to looking into data from Russia, one of the world's major resource explorers.

Information contained herein is obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but its accuracy cannot be guaranteed. The information contained herein is not intended to constitute individual investment advice and is not designed to meet your personal financial situation. The opinions expressed herein are those of the publisher and are subject to change without notice. The information herein may become outdated and there is no obligation to update any such information. Doug Casey, entities in which he has an interest, employees, officers, family, and associates may from time to time have positions in the securities or commodities covered in these publications. Corporate policies are in effect that attempt to avoid potential conflicts of interest, and resolve conflicts of interest that do arise in a timely fashion. No portion of this web site may be extracted or reproduced without permission of the publisher.

Copyright © 2010-2012 Casey Research, LLC.

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