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Got gold? I can think of no more essential question to pose to investors during these tumultuous times. I could, of course, state it more eloquently: "Pardon me, would you happen to have any Goldcorp (NYSE: GG ) ?"
A flurry of downgrades and target-price reductions rained down upon Goldcorp after the company released lowered guidance late last week, projecting a pit stop for production growth during 2009. Until those analysts begin including their gold price forecasts alongside their outlook for miners, however, I find it best to tune them out entirely. It is indeed unfortunate that declining production from mines like Goldcorp's El Sauzal will offset many of the gains from the newer ones this year, but I continue to urge Fools to focus upon the larger picture.
The newly issued forecast for 50% production growth through 2013 is only about 5% below what analysts had targeted, and the starting point of 2.3 million ounces of gold produced in 2008 is nothing to sneeze at. Goldcorp continues to post impressive cost metrics, with anticipated 2008 costs of about $300 per ounce of gold and about $365 for 2009. I have heaped praise upon intermediate miners like Yamana Gold (NYSE: AUY ) and my top pick Agnico-Eagle Mines (NYSE: AEM ) on the basis of their low cost structure, but Goldcorp achieves similar margins on a much grander scale.
After divesting its sizeable stake in spin-off Silver Wheaton (NYSE: SLW ) a year ago, Goldcorp's debt-free balance sheet is a thing of beauty. Nonetheless, the company is deferring some longer-range development projects to focus resources upon the three core properties under development: Penasquito, Red Lake, and Pueblo Viejo. Penasquito is truly a world-class deposit, and will be the primary driver of Goldcorp's production growth for years to come. At Red Lake, where Goldcorp founder Rob McEwen has struck another bonanza through junior explorer Rubicon Minerals (AMEX: RBY ) , Goldcorp will obtain more than one quarter of 2009 production despite deferring some improvement projects. Of the $1.4 billion Goldcorp plans to spend in 2009, $430 million will go to Pueblo Viejo, a joint venture with larger rival Barrick Gold (NYSE: ABX ) .
Bring on the downgrades, analysts! In the long run, I believe they can only help Fools by creating more attractive entry points. After shares promptly doubled from their October low, we frankly needed a little consolidation.
Further freshly mined Foolishness: