The recent quarterly earnings report of Royal Gold (NASDAQ: RGLD), a company that manages precious metal royalties and streams, showed a 34% drop in its revenue; its earning-per-share plunged by 62%, year over year. Nonetheless, the company’s stock rallied by over 23% during 2014. Is the company’s stock over valued? How is the company measuring up compared to other precious metals companies such as Barrick Gold (NYSE: ABX) and Silver Wheaton (NYSE: SLW)?
Gold is up – Royal Gold follows
One of the reasons for the recent rally of Royal Gold’s stock is the recovery of gold. The price of gold rose by more than by 3% during January. As a result, during January, shares of other precious metals companies including Barrick Gold and Silver Wheaton have also increased by 10.6% and 8.3%, respectively. If the price of gold continues to recover, precious metals companies’ expected revenues are likely to improve in the coming quarters. Nonetheless, the recovery of gold price wasn’t the only factor that pulled up Royal Gold’s stock. In the coming quarters, the company expects to augment its production in Peñasquito and Mt.Milligan gold and copper mines. This increase is likely to improve Royal Gold’s revenue in the near future. This increase may also offset the expected decline in Andacollo’s production.
In the meantime, during the fourth-quarter of 2013, Royal Gold’s production volume dropped by 11% and the average price of gold by 26%. These two factors led to a 34% plunge in the company’s revenue. But Royal Gold isn’t the only precious metals company that experienced a decline in revenue in the last quarter of 2013: Barrick’s revenue is likely drop not only due to the lower price of gold, but also due to the expected decline in its production. Based on the company’s guidance of producing 7.2 million ounces of gold and the amount of gold produced in the first three quarters of 2013, Barrick’s gold production is likely to be 13% lower than in the fourth-quarter of 2012.
Conversely, Silver Wheaton is likely to augment its precious metals production mainly due to its Sudbury and Salobo mines, which were acquired early last year. Nonetheless, the company’s revenue is likely to fall by 22% in the fourth-quarter.
It’s worth noticing that even though all three companies are in the precious metals industry, the level of risk that Royal Gold and Silver Wheaton incur is lower than Barrick’s. The latter is a gold producer that incurs risk related to production including changes in production costs, delays and more. Royal Gold and Silver Wheaton don’t face these risks – they have contracts with precious metals producers to receive gold and silver at a pre-determined price. Despite Barrick’s higher risk, there is not reward. In the third-quarter, the company’s profitability was 30%. In comparison, Royal Gold and Silver Wheaton recorded higher profitability of 43% in the fourth-quarter and 47% in the third-quarter, respectively. So Royal Gold and Silver Wheaton not only have higher profit margins than leading gold and silver producers, they are less risky and are expected to increase their production in the coming quarters.
Therefore, even though Royal Gold, Silver Wheaton and Barrick work in the precious metals market, they have different level of risks. Taking into consideration these companies’ business operations, let’s compare the current valuation of Royal Gold with other precious metals companies.
Is the price right?
Let’s analyze Royal Gold, Silver Wheaton and Barrick enterprise-to-EBITDA ratio. I have used this metric because of the different financial structure these companies have such as their debt and cash on hand, e.g. Royal Gold’s debt-to-equity ratio is 0.13. In comparison, Silver Wheaton has a debt-to- equity ratio of 0.35, and Barrick’s ratio is 1.13. Therefore, Royal Gold is in a better position in terms of debt than Silver Wheaton and Barrick are. These companies’ different debt structure is partly considered in this metric.
The table below shows the enterprise-to-EBITDA ratios of the above-mentioned precious metals companies and the precious metals market.
As you can see, due to the sharp rise in Royal Gold’s stock in the past several weeks, its EV-to-EBITDA ratio is much higher than the precious metals market and slightly higher than Silver Wheaton’s valuation (Barrick’s EBITDA is without one time provisions such as impairment of assets). These numbers suggest Royal Gold’s valuation is slightly high eve after considering the company’s debt and cash on hand.
Royal Gold is a strong company with low financial and operational risk compared to some other precious metals companies such as Barrick. The expected rise in production is likely to benefit its investors. But the current valuation of the company might be high, and there are other alternatives such as Silver Wheaton that have similar attributes such as level of risk, potential growth and high profitability but are slightly less expensive.
For further reading:
- Will Gold Recover from its Recent Fall?
- What Could Impede This Gold Company?
- Will The Gold Market Continue to Cool Down?
Disclaimer: The author holds no positions in stocks mentioned and does not plan to initiate positions within 120 hours of the posting of this article. This article is to be used for educational, research and informational purposes only and does not constitute investment advice. There are no guarantees, expressed or implied, of future positive returns in regards to the subject matter contained herein. Understand the risks inherent in investing before making the decision to invest or consult an investment professional for more information. Reasonable due diligence has been performed in regards to the information in this article. However, the author expressly disclaims any liability for accidental omissions of information or errors in fact.