The prospect of chasing after tremendous price gains in gold and silver is daunting enough, but when the charts of coveted mining stocks begin to resemble brick walls of missed momentum, investors may be left feeling understandably overwhelmed.
Thankfully, the vast and varied market for gold and silver mining stocks continues to conceal some remarkably under-rated investment opportunities, and my top stock pick for 2011 -- Gammon Gold (NYSE: GRS ) -- provides a most glaring example.
In the three months since I discussed a few of the upside catalysts capable of turning these shares around from a multiyear malaise, Gammon Gold has delivered tremendous shareholder value on multiple fronts with only a modest rise in the share price to show for it. In that growing valuation divide, I see golden opportunity.
For starters, Gammon's highly successful 2010 exploration program managed to increase the miner's proven and probable reserves, net of production, by 9%, to 2.7 million gold-equivalent ounces (GEOs). Located at a finding cost of just $49 per GEO, these added ounces are well situated to enhance ongoing operations by virtue of their "immediate proximity to existing mine development and infrastructure."
Already sporting an enticing inferred resource of 1.9 million GEOs, Gammon's Guadalupe y Calvo continues to emerge as a golden powerhouse within Gammon's exciting long-term growth pipeline. Gammon's preliminary economic assessment (PEA) for this project has been pushed back to the second quarter for all the right reasons: They're finding additional gold and silver at a steady clip and wish to incorporate those findings into the analysis. Just this week, Gammon reported drill intercepts from the northwest extension of the Rosario vein that featured 21 meaningful intercepts with an phenomenal average grade of 10.36 grams of gold-equivalent per tonne over an average width of 1.9 meters. I am not a geologist, but I have reviewed enough exploration results to recognize a hot prospect; and Guadalupe y Calvo is definitively one.
Meanwhile, Capital Gold (AMEX: CGC ) shareholders are set to meet next week to approve Gammon's friendly acquisition bid. The merger will add some 65,000 ounces of gold to Gammon's pro forma 2011 production, and a pair of very attractive exploration assets besides. In a letter to shareholders supporting the merger, Capital Gold highlighted Gammon's strong balance sheet, experienced management team, and potential synergies among serveral reasons to support the combination.
And finally, as if everything above were not reason enough to celebrate a most convincing about-face from Gammon's previous spate of challenges, Gammon recently brokered a successful end to a labor dispute that forced the closure of its El Cubo mine as of June 2010. Once minor repairs are completed, resumed production and exploration at El Cubo will mark another major step forward for the company that I consider the most under-rated miner in the gold patch.
I highlighted several turnaround stories within my list of the top ten gold and silver stocks for 2011, placing Yamana Gold (NYSE: AUY ) , Brigus Gold (AMEX: BRD ) , and Northgate Minerals (AMEX: NXG ) among the sector's lowest-hanging fruit. To better understand why I selected Gammon Gold as my top pick, be sure to add Gammon to your personalized watchlist to track my future coverage of this underrated miner.