Is Yamana Gold Inc. a Good Investment?

Gold producers haven’t been this happy in nearly five years.

The price of the precious metal continues to rise. An ounce of gold now costs US$1,320. By way of comparison, just a few months ago gold was selling for less than US$1,100 per ounce, reaching the bottom of a steep drop that started in 2011, when prices were as high as US$1,900 per ounce.

While prices dropped, gold producers were left with expensive mines and fairly inefficient processing standards. Most gold producers were forced to implement strict cost-cutting efforts and work hard at becoming more efficient.

One such gold producer is Yamana Gold Inc. (TSX:YRI)(NYSE:AUY). Yamana has had a tremendous year so far, benefiting greatly from the rally in gold prices, prompting many investors to consider an investment in the gold producer.

Here’s a look at the company and why you should consider investing.

Yamana’s explosive growth

Gold-producer stocks have shot up considerably during the current rally, and Yamana is no exception to this. The stock is currently priced at $7 and is up by 170% year-to-date.

While this is an incredible increase, looking out over a longer term provides some input to the jump in price and brings the company down from the stratosphere. Over the past five years, the stock has been down by 45%. Keep in mind that the time frame was when gold was significantly more expensive, but Yamana was also significantly less efficient.

The fact that Yamana has become more efficient is a key part to the rise in price. One of the main metrics that miners use as a measure of costs and efficiency is the all-in-sustaining-costs figure. This is basically the cost of production in addition to all other costs relating to sustaining production. During the boom years when gold was high priced, the all-in sustaining costs for gold producers could be well over US$1,100 per ounce.

Yamana has managed to get this figure down to US$806 per ounce, which–when coupled with an increase in gold prices–results in a much more favourable environment for the miner.

Yamana’s upcoming results

Yamana will provide second-quarter results next week. The company is widely expected to beat revenue forecasts for the quarter. With gold prices up and production forecasts showing an increase of over 2%, the company should be in line for more positive results stemming from both the production and price upticks.

These increases should propel the company to post a profit for the quarter, and that’s not including any efficiencies the company may have made in terms of bringing costs down and reducing debt.

In terms of debt reduction, last year the company managed to reduce debt by US$286 million with a further US$300 million reduction targeted over the next few years. This reduction only improves the bottom-line results for the company, which should contribute to the better-than-expected results that some analysts are calling for.

In my opinion, Yamana represents a unique opportunity for long-term investors looking at precious metals. The company still has a ways to go to meet the earnings and profits that were commonplace when gold was significantly more expensive, but today’s Yamana is leaner and more efficient.

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Fool contributor Demetris Afxentiou has no position in any stocks mentioned.

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