Gammon's Jammin' Once More

When presenting my rationale for selecting for Gammon Gold (NYSE: GRS  ) as my top stock pick for 2011, I identified three looming catalysts that could launch these shares out of an extended malaise.

This was not one of them. Before you can launch, you need a steady foundation beneath you. Gammon's tally of 2010 production and cost figures from the Ocampo mining camp in Mexico offers investors the peace of mind to know that Gammon's launchpad is sound and secure.

Gammon's Ocampo mine produced 183,538 gold equivalent ounces (GEOs) during 2010 at a highly competitive cash cost of $422 per GEO. The company's record fourth quarter margin of $955 per GEO -- for a full 69% of operating revenue -- offers gold and silver investors a savory preview of soaring profitability from lower-cost mining operations.

Although miners often employ distinct methods to calculate costs, I nonetheless find Gammon's cost structure very appealing on a relative basis. Facing a tough transition year in its long-term growth trajectory, junior miner Northgate Minerals (AMEX: NXG  ) expects 2011 costs (net of copper production) to trend above $800 per ounce. Meanwhile, Gammon's cost profile stacks-up nicely even alongside a major producer like Goldcorp (NYSE: GG  ) . Goldcorp recently estimated its co-product total cash cost for the fourth quarter of 2010 at about $450 per ounce.

Both gold and silver production increased at Ocampo during each successive quarter of 2010, highlighting a gathering momentum "in virtually every key performance indicator." With commercial production now under way at the exciting Santa Eduviges zone, and redeployed resources from the discontinued El Cubo mine accelerating the development of underground targets, I expect another solid year from Ocampo during 2011.

With Gammon's foundation of low-cost production secure, Fools are free to return their focus to the company's looming growth catalysts. From the company's board-welcomed bid to merge with competitor Capital Gold (AMEX: CGC  ) , to the series of exciting new option and purchase agreements that herald a potential explosion of the company's long-term development pipeline in Mexico, Gammon is positioned squarely upon a golden launchpad. With $113 million in cash on hand, Gammon enjoys "the flexibility to invest in our future, and fully fund our growth strategy." Again, the preliminary assessment for Gammon's Guadalupe y Calvo project is expected in late January or early February.

I expect another terrific year overall for the miners of silver and gold, amid further pricing strength from the metals themselves. I have identified several potential outperformers within the industry, including some larger-cap names like Yamana Gold (NYSE: AUY  ) and Coeur d'Alene Mines (NYSE: CDE  ) , but for this year I think the hot one to hold will prove to be Gammon Gold.

The Fool owns shares of Northgate Minerals. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days

Fool contributor Christopher Barker can be found blogging actively and acting Foolishly within the CAPS community under the username TMFSinchiruna. He tweets. He owns shares of Coeur d'Alene Mines, Gammon Gold, Goldcorp, Northgate Minerals, and Yamana Gold. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a gilded disclosure policy.


Read/Post Comments (2) | Recommend This Article (11)

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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 January 12, 2011, at 8:29 AM, jacobske wrote:

    Christopher,

    Are you still holding GPRLF? What valuation do you put on it, if it uplists?

    I'll take a harder look at GRS and AUY.

    Thanks for the info!

    Kip

  • Report this Comment On January 12, 2011, at 9:15 AM, silverminer wrote:

    Kip,

    Great Panther remains my second largest equity holding overall, and by the time we see $50 silver and the company expands production to 3.8m SEOs, I fully expect to see the shares conservatively in the $7-$8 range. At today's silver price, I would place fair value at about $4.00 Happy hunting.

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