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Francos Woes Continue, Yet Its a Strong Buy

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Source: Adrian Day 12/08/2023

As gold slips back from new record highs, a record close on Friday, and new high Monday morning, one of Global Analyst Adrian Day’s favorite gold holdings has slumped.

Franco-Nevada Corp. (FNV:TSX; FNV:NYSE) fell further after the Panamanian government ordered the closure of the Cobre Panama mine following a Supreme Court ruling that the revised contract on the mine was unconstitutional. Franco’s stream on the mine was its largest asset, representing about 15% of the company’s NAV and around 22% of its revenues. Mine operator First Quantum had already said it was suspending operations in the face of ongoing protests and a port blockade.

The Court gave no near reasons for why the contract was deemed unconstitutional and, therefore, no clear path toward fixing it. First Quantum has initiated both local and now international arbitration. Based on other such arbitrations, analysts indicate that the international arbitration should go in the company’s favor, though it may be years before a final decision; Franco would share in any settlement on a pro-rata basis. It is worth noting that the company has already received back in revenue some 47% of the investment it made.

We May Have To Wait for Resolution

Given the Panamanian government is a lame duck, with elections scheduled for May, no new negotiations are likely until then. There are signs that the new government may be more market-friendly, and given the damage to the local economy, the closure of the mine — one of the largest tax generators and employers in the country — the mine will be a major issue in the election campaign.

A new government may allow the mine to restart and renegotiate the contract in an amenable manner. Whether that would lead to renewed protests is unknown, but perhaps the new government would be willing to provide the necessary security for the mine and its staff. Franco’s stock has more than wiped out the entire value of the stream in the last month since the latest episode began, even as peers have seen strong advances.

The company’s rock-solid balance sheet, with $1.3 billion in cash and no debt — indicate that the company can and will survive the blow, while the rest of its portfolio is extremely broadly diversified. The company has 115 producing assets, the largest of which, after Cobre Panama, accounts for 12% of total revenues, as well as over 300 non-producing assets, some at the advanced development stage.

Cobre Worth More Than Zero to Franco

So, in any scenario, it seems that the stock decline is overdone. Why, then, has the stock been so weak, and might it continue? I suspect that this episode has tarnished Franco’s invincible reputation somewhat, particularly among generalist investors who form the bulk of the company’s share registry.

Franco was seen as a high-quality alternative to bullion, and this episode may make some generalist investors give up on gold stocks (for the time being). So here would be some follow-through, particularly in the midst of tax-loss selling season, towards the end of the year. A generalist fund manager probably does not want to have to defend Franco to his board, so out it goes.

I can see no other reason for the extreme weakness — down 22% in one month while other gold stocks are up (peer Wheaton by 14%). Franco, for the first time, now has a smaller market cap and is less expensive on valuation metrics than Wheaton. Franco has a market cap of $20.6 billion vs. $21.8 billion and is trading at a p/e of 31 times, a price-to-book of 3.1x, and a price-to-free cash flow of 48.5x compared with Wheaton at 44x, 3.2x and 51 times respectively. It may take some time to burnish Franco’s reputation again.

But for investors who can look beyond next week, Franco is a Strong Buy.

Record Financials for Orogen

Orogen Royalties Inc. (OGN:TSX.V) reported another quarter of record revenues, primarily from royalty revenue from the First Majestic’s Ermitaño mine, which saw increased production, strong gold grades, and improved recoveries. Its prospect generation business remains profitable with option payments and other fees. Royalty revenue of $1.6 million in the quarter is up 41% from the previous quarter.

G&A expenses remained fairly constant, up 7% on a year ago but down 10% on the prior quarter, for a net income of $675,989, up over five-fold from a year ago. The company ended the quarter with working capital of $17 million. The balance sheet strength and ongoing revenue put Orogen in a position to make acquisitions, while AngloGold advances the Silicon project in Nevada over which Orogen has a royalty.

For a junior royalty generator, Orogen is in an enviable position and is a Buy.

Farewell Nova Royalty

Nova Royalty Corp. (NOVR:TSX.V) has been delisted this evening following the completion of its acquisition by Metalla Royalties.

Shareholders will receive 0.36 of a Metalla (Canada) share in the coming days. We will add Metalla to our “Current Positions” table and plan on a comprehensive review of the combined company shortly.

Hold.

TOP BUYS this week in addition to the above include Hutchison Port Holdings Trust (HPHT:Singapore), Altius Minerals Corp. (ALS:TSX.V), and Lara Exploration Ltd. (LRA:TSX.V).

We are holding off buying most gold stocks now, given the recent runup, awaiting a possible pullback.

OUR NEW WEBSITE is now up and running at AdrianDayGlobalAnalyst.com. It should make managing your subscription easier. You should not have any problem, but if you are directed to the old site, then type the website name rather than using a bookmark; clear your browsing history if necessary. Your username and log remain the same. Once you log in, select the Subscriber Resources tab at the top right (or if on mobile phone, the three lines at top right, then the Subscriber Resources tab) to access all of the features available only to subscribers. As a reminder, you can search back issues on the Newsletter Issues tab. If you have any difficulties or questions, please contact us at [email protected] or call 410-224-8885.

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Important Disclosures:

  1. As of the date of this article, officers and/or employees of Streetwise Reports LLC (including members of their household) own securities of [Franco-Nevada Corp., Orogen Royalties Inc., and Altius Minerals Corp].
  2. [Adrian Day: I, or members of my immediate household or family, own securities of: [All]. My company has a financial relationship with [All]. I determined which companies would be included in this article based on my research and understanding of the sector.
  3. Statements and opinions expressed are the opinions of the author and not of Streetwise Reports or its officers. The author is wholly responsible for the validity of the statements. The author was not paid by Streetwise Reports for this article. Streetwise Reports was not paid by the author to publish or syndicate this article. Streetwise Reports requires contributing authors to disclose any shareholdings in, or economic relationships with, companies that they write about. Streetwise Reports relies upon the authors to accurately provide this information and Streetwise Reports has no means of verifying its accuracy.
  4. This article does not constitute investment advice. Each reader is encouraged to consult with his or her individual financial professional. By opening this page, each reader accepts and agrees to Streetwise Reports’ terms of use and full legal disclaimer. This article is not a solicitation for investment. Streetwise Reports does not render general or specific investment advice and the information on Streetwise Reports should not be considered a recommendation to buy or sell any security. Streetwise Reports does not endorse or recommend the business, products, services or securities of any company.

For additional disclosures, please click here.

( Companies Mentioned: FNV:TSX; FNV:NYSE, NOVR:TSX.V, OGN:TSX.V, )


Source: https://www.streetwisereports.com/article/2023/12/08/francos-woes-continue-yet-its-a-strong-buy.html


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