Buying Gold Below $300 per Ounce

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If you could see the future, I trust you would apply the skill generously ... warning the rest of us about impending disasters. You would have time on your hands, since a small sum could be easily multiplied into a healthy nest egg.

With financial foresight, who among us would not have purchased some gold below $300 in early 2002 as a refuge from the looming global financial crisis? For Royal Gold (Nasdaq: RGLD  ) , that retrospective fantasy just came to life in a very big way. The precious metals royalty company announced a deal this week to acquire a 75% royalty interest in the first 910,000 ounces of gold production from Teck Cominco's (NYSE: TCK  ) Andacollo Mine in Chile. Production beyond the 910,000-ounce mark will carry a 50% royalty for the remaining life of the mine.

Announced at a value of about $300 million, the subsequent sell-off in Royal Gold shares, and terms of the purchase agreement relating to the company's 6.5 million-share public offering brings the price tag closer to $265 million.

Of the 1.6 million ounces of proven and probable gold reserves at Andacollo, Royal Gold's attributable share is 1.03 million ounces. Without having to contribute another penny to cover production or operating costs, Royal Gold has essentially purchased more than 1 million ounces of gold for less than $260 per ounce. A modern-day Nostradamus could hardly have done better.

The per-ounce price tag may sound high relative to the $100 paid by Barrick Gold (NYSE: ABX  ) for Teck's operational Hemlo mines, or the $42 which Teck and Anglo American (Nasdaq: AAUK  ) received for their shares in the Lobo-Marte project, but recall that this is a royalty interest. Teck Cominco still must pay to get that gold out of the ground, targeting a significant copper resource in the process.

For Teck Cominco, the transaction provides development capital to complete preparations for gold production at Andacollo, while applying revenue from the existing copper production there to pay down the company's mountain of debt. Little by little, Teck's prospects are looking up.

Employing a more traditional royalty model than silver counterpart Silver Wheaton (NYSE: SLW  ) , Royal Gold also locks in long-term interests in exchange for up-front capital, and negotiates favorable pricing in the process. Both companies, incidentally, hold interest in production from Goldcorp's (NYSE: GG  ) world-class Penasquito Mine, and both receive this Fool's blessing as high-quality vehicles for precious metals exposure.

Further Foolishness:

Royal Gold garners only three stars out of five from the venerable community of investors at Motley Fool CAPS. Come share your insights on this and other gold investments.

Fool contributor Christopher Barker has maintained an outperform rating on Royal Gold since November 2007. He can be found blogging actively and acting Foolishly within the CAPS community under the username TMFSinchiruna. He owns shares of Anglo American, Royal Gold, Silver Wheaton, and Teck Cominco. The Motley Fool's disclosure policy is descended from royalty.

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Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On June 17, 2009, at 2:48 PM, jgneuw wrote:

    I own some ABX & GG but big deal. Why not just buy their precious product at the current spot price. The stock isn't going anywhere too soon and the gold itself at least stands to retain or increase its price as our dollar recedes against world currency. It seems to me that for all your analysis you could have simply bought their gold and been done with it. -------JG

  • Report this Comment On June 18, 2009, at 1:34 AM, Ladybird22 wrote:

    So should one invest in the David or the Goliath? Or as jgneuw suggests, in the commodity itself?


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