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Jan 2008 - Year End & China

  • 2008 appears to be heading for a year of M & A activity, especially of the junior Australian metal producers, with possible premiums of 35% to 40% being paid.
  • The nickel sulphide producers could be prominent in the activity, and our conceptual order of value is Albidon, Sally Malay, Mincor & then Independence
  • While China would love to have lower metal prices, the developing countries are in synchronised growth mode. One of the metals to watch may be Cobalt (now ~US$45/lb) which could focus the market on ALB, SMY, MRE and VCN.
  • This comment is based on ERA’s (my) last visit to the China Mining (November) 2007 Conference in Beijing, in which I visiting Golden Tiger’s operations in Guangxi during the week before the conference, attended the conference and saw a number of blue skies over Beijing (after winds had blown away the smoke from burning-off the rice fields). It was actually even possibly to see the distant mountains (~50km away) at the end of some of the streets.
  • China realises what its metal requirements are and hence would love to have lower metal prices, by any means possible (even if it means taking over [or a blocking stake in] RIO by a consortium of companies). The mid-2008 stainless steel sabre-rattling can only be done so many times before the market becomes immune to it. It was commented at the conference that this is the first time that the developing countries are in synchronised growth mode, following in China’s footsteps. The US was expected to stumble and possibly still have a psychological impact on the market, but the reality was that it appeared unlikely to reduce the pace of world growth by more than 0.5%.
  • So, following on from INCO and Falconbridge, LionOre has gone (to Norilsk), Xstrata has acquired ~43% of Jubilee, and in a pincer movement Zinifex has offered $1/share for Allegiance (AGM). AGM closed at A$1.07 on 31 December 2007, inferring that the market is looking for more. At the recent China Mining Conference, AGM stated that it now had 3 stopes on line, was looking at possibly a 50% expansion, had a number of regional exploration targets, was on-track for MQ08 production, and had some higher grade nickel sulphide ore as shown in the presentation.

Sep 2008 - DnD - SLR, NGF, IGO

Silver Lake (SLR), Norton Goldfields (NGF) & Independence (IGO)

  • Post Diggers last year we wrote “This Comment started out based on the visits we (ERA) took during the Diggers n Dealers Aug 2007 Conference. However, it has been extended following the recent decimation in share prices due to trading on money that did not exist, and requests for our nickel & gold favourites”. That comment applies just as easily for 2008 too, except that this time around the “money that did not exist” has mainly been in different forms of sophisticated shorting.
  • It is often commented that the market likes a story and hates reality, that’s why the old model of the share price rising when a company starts production has gone out of the window. Now companies rise before production and fall when they go into production as reality hits, unless they are still in “story” mode. Our current Australian based and operated favourites are all appear to be debt free, generating cash with cash in the bank, and significant upside potential being for nickel : Panoramic (PAN @ $1.45); in gold : Silver Lake (SLR @ $0.16) and in other (iron ore) : Territory (TTY @ $0.52). – And all of them have PERs in the 2 to 4 x area. (PAN : 194m x $1.45 = $281m, less $130m cash = $151m/$73m = 2.1 x; SLR : 153m x $0.16 = $24m less ~$3m = $21m/$12m = 1.8 x; TTY : 265m x $0.52 = $138m less $1m (check financials when reported) = $137m/$45m = 3.0 x) Our (ERA) current favourites are :
  • Panoramic : Recent August 2008 report, and stacks of upside both at Lanfranchi (due to Deacon) and at Kimberley Nickel due to Savannah. PAN recently reported some more of those thick high grade (double current grade) intersections, indicating further upside potential. Our report had a life of 10 to 15 years at ~15,000tpa - 20,000tpaNi (whereas it could be 15 to 20 years at up to 25,000tpa [which more resembles a portfolio stock]). The NPAT is about $70m per year at prices of A$9.47/lb Ni (US$9/lb and an 0.95US$ exchange rate, currently the nickel price at US$8.3/lb and a 0.81US$ exchange rate equates to 10.25A$/lbNi)
  • Silver Lake : We accept that the share price has fallen to as low as 15c, but how many gold mines are debt-free, treat at ~14g/t (July 2008), encounter 10m @ 6kg/t (6,000g/t in a development drive), have a development face averaging 57g/t, have the capability to double their mill size and could exceed our forecasts of 70,000ozpa by possibly up to 50% more in their first year, potentially generating profits of $1m to $2m per month.
  • Territory : Yes we accept that it lost heaps ~$50m or more last year investing in Monarch etc etc. But at Diggers it was selling its lump at ~A$110/t, fines at A$90/t, say A$100/t on a 50/50 basis. Costs are A$70/t falling to A$60/t (and targeted to go lower), say a margin of A$35/t, which at 2mtpa = $70m less tax = ~$50m NPAT less exploration etc = $40m (and revenues may be US$/t and not A$/t, so the figures could be higher).
  • At Diggers, we also visited Norton Goldfields (NGF) and Independence (IGOs) operations, viz :
  • Norton Goldfields : Being overlooked because of the Paddington history by Pancon. We were surprised by the upside potential seen on the visit (ahead of Diggers) with the old Padd I & II pits to be used as tailings storage (20 years at ~3.5mtpa).
  • Independence Group : Remains a favourite, despite its share price collapse to under A$3/share. Long-Victor and Tropicana could continue as low cost operations until the “cows come home”.

Oct 2008 - Panoramic Res

BUY Panoramic (PAN)

  • Our last commissioned report was on Panoramic, rating it a BUY at $2.37 on 1 August 2008, and we again recommended it as a BUY in our post Diggers Comment at A$1.45 on 11 September and it has continued to fall along with most of the resource stocks currently to ~A$1.12 per share, and given the state of the market may fall further from 7 October 2008.
  • However, we continue to rate PAN as a BUY.......................WHY ?, well :
  • At A$1.12 per share, PAN appears to have a fully franked dividend yield of 10% (or in other words about double what you get for money on deposit in an Australian bank [and bank rates are expected to fall]). The current 7.5%pa (less the bank fees, which for this example we have ignored) becomes an equivalent 5.25%pa after paying 30% tax (placing it on the same comparable basis as a fully franked yield).
  • If PAN’s share price falls further from here ($1.12), then you should get an even higher dividend yield.
  • That dividend yield is based on PAN paying 11Ac to 12Ac this year to June 2009, and according to our estimates, it should be achievable, even if nickel falls to US$6/lb. PAN has paid 12c per year for the past 2 years (the first 12c was a maiden final for the year to June 2007, and in the year to June 2008 PAN paid a 7c interim followed by a 5c final). Last years’ 12c was a 43% payout ratio based on earnings of 28.4c (DH07 : $24.4m, 13.7c eps: JH08 : $29.9M, 15.5c eps).
  • Our August 2008 estimate for the year to June 2009 was an eps of 39c, based on US$9/lbNi and a US95c exchange rate or A$9.47/lbNi, whereas at current prices of nickel at US$6.87/lbNi and the A$ at 77.5USc, PAN is receiving A$8.86/lbNi, which results in an eps of 39.6c in 08/09 and 43.1c in 09/10, and 40c at a 40% payout ratio = 16c (and an NPV of $2.45).
  • If the nickel price fell to US$6/lb (as some major brokers believe), and assuming an unchanged exchange rate of 77.5USc, then PAN’s 08/09 eps becomes 32c or at a ~40% payout possibly ~ 12c to 13c in dividends.