If investors in Kinross Gold Corporation (TSX:K)(NYSE:KGC) are wondering if the massive rally in the stock is overdone, they may have a point. The gold miner released its first-quarter earnings yesterday, and the report lacked any fresh catalyst that could justify another run up in the stock. While Kinross confirmed that it is proceeding with a key expansion project, the news isn’t enough to remain bullish about Kinross. Here’s why.
Q1 a dampener
Here’s a quick snapshot of the key numbers from Kinross’s first quarter (all year-over-year comparisons):
- Revenue: Flat at US$782.6 million
- Gold production: Up 9%
- All-in-sustaining costs (AISC): US$963 per ounce of gold compared to US$964 per ounce in Q1 2015
- Net losses: More than doubled to US$13.9 million
Kinross blamed low prices of gold for wider losses in Q1. It realized US$1,179 per ounce versus US$1,218 per ounce in the year-ago quarter. While that has been an industry-wide trend, with peers like Yamana Gold Inc. (TSX:YRI)(NYSE:AUY) and Barrick Gold Corp. (TSX:ABX)(NYSE:ABX) also realizing 2-3% lower prizes for gold in their respective first quarters, Kinross is lagging behind in an area that matters most for gold miners right now: AISC.
So while Kinross reported flattish AISC in Q1, Barrick’s Q1 AISC was down a whopping 24% year over year to US$706 per ounce of gold. If you think that’s an unfair comparison given Barrick’s size and greater economies of scale, consider that Yamana Gold also lowered its AISC by 10% to US$804 per ounce in Q1.
That tells us two important things about Kinross: its AISC is among the highest in the industry, and the company is failing to lower its costs, unlike its rivals. Also, while Barrick improved its full-year AISC guidance in Q1, Kinross re-iterated its outlook of US$890-990 per ounce. While hitting the lower end of the range would translate into 10% lower AISC compared with 2015, Kinross still needs to do a lot to catch up with Yamana and Barrick to break the US$800 per ounce mark.
Its Tasiast mine should help.
This news is gold, but old
Kinross upped its capital expenditures guidance in Q1 as it expects to spend US$160 million in expanding Tasiast to double production volumes and lower production cost of sales by nearly 50%. That could go a long way in lowering Kinross’s AISC, given that Tasiast’s production cost was around US$975 per ounce in the first quarter. Meanwhile, the company’s acquisitions at Nevada should also drive costs lower as production ramps up.
The only catch, and a big one at that, is that the Tasiast expansion is old news as Kinross had already announced the program in March. The stock has gained a staggering 62% since then, despite gold gaining only about 4%. In other words, the optimism around Tasiast and the resultant potential lower AISC is well baked into Kinross’s stock price.
The bottom line? Kinross’s first-quarter report lacks fresh catalysts to suggest further upside in the stock going forward.