Barrick Gold’s copper does not glister

 Headquartered in Toronto, Barrick Gold Corporation is the world’s biggest gold producer, boasting a range of operations around the globe. But for Deutsche Bank analysts Jorge Beristain and Wilfredo Ortiz, Barrick (ABX—TSX; ABX–NYSE) has lost some luster.

Not only are they downgrading the mega miner to a “hold” from a buy, but they’re cutting their 12-month price target to C$16 from C$22 a share. They write:

Although Barrick’s third quarter was operationally solid, we’re once again worried about the company’s ability to deleverage its balance sheet, given volatile gold prices.

We’re also worried about dimming prospects for Barrick’s copper business, as well as a lack of strategic action on partnerships.

We’re excluding the company’s Pascua-Lama project in South America from our outlook, even though we’d expected the project to have attracted a strategic partner.

We’d hoped that by helping to pay for remaining capital costs, such a partner could move the project toward its projected start-up in the first quarter of 2018.

Not only must Pascua-Lama gain regulatory approval, but its future is contingent on more robust economics.

In the meantime, Barrick must face the possibility of having to pay higher royalties to Zambia for its Lumwana copper mine.

In fact, if that country triples royalties to 20 per cent in January, the mine will remain cash flow-negative, likely necessitating a shutdown, as well as the write-down of US$1 billion on a US$6 billion investment.

And although Lumwana is posting lower operating costs, its sustaining capital expenditures remain high at US$200 million a year.

 

Investor’s Digest of Canada, MPL Communications Inc.
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