I do not like green eggs and ham, but of IAMGOLD (NYSE: IAG ) I am a fan.
The growth-hungry mid-tier miner -- whose shares have easily outshone the likes of deep value sensation Yamana Gold (NYSE: AUY ) and the newly resurgent New Gold (AMEX: NGD ) over the past five years -- amassed liquid wealth of more than $1 billion with a $667 million injection from the sale of non-core assets.
IAMGOLD held an 18.9% stake in two producing gold mines -- the Tarkwa and Damang mines -- in Ghana, West Africa. Gold Fields (NYSE: GFI ) , the majority owner and operator of the mines, will achieve a quick, coveted production boost by consolidating its stake in these mines at an attractive price. Meanwhile, IAMGOLD will pursue its growth in projects where the company's proven mine development and operating expertise are more fully leveraged in pursuit of that growth.
While it is never particularly easy for investors to watch a miner unload profitable, producing assets, Fools are encouraged to note that IAMGOLD is unloading mines that were exerting upward pressure on the company's consolidated cost structure. Tarkwa and Damang delivered their gold at a cost of $611 and $673 per ounce, respectively, during the fourth quarter of 2010. Both those figures exceeded IAMGOLD's consolidated cost of $574 per ounce. Gold Fields expects its 2011 cash costs to average $760 per ounce of gold, so the transaction will assist the company in its bid to get operating costs under control.
Considering that Gammon Gold (NYSE: GRS ) paid $280 per ounce of gold reserves in its highly transformational acquisition of Capital Gold, this transaction's implied value ($295 for each of the 2.26 million ounces of attributable reserves at the two mines) appears in line with current market values for producing gold mines. Clearly, this market has progressed considerably since Barrick Gold (NYSE: ABX ) acquired the operating Hemlo mines from Teck Resources (NYSE: TCK ) just more than two years ago for $100 per ounce of gold in reserves, (In all fairness, Teck possessed little bargaining power at the time.)
With $1 billion in cash, gold bullion, and equivalents on hand, IAMGOLD will be a force to be reckoned with among the mid-tier miners chasing sustainable production growth through strategic acquisitions. Given the company's intended collaboration with Chinese state-owned China National Gold Group in pursuit of development opportunities in Africa and the Americas, I expect IAMGOLD to deploy its capital intelligently into exciting joint venture opportunities in which IAMGOLD is likely to perform a key operating role. I consider the shares a remarkable bargain at current levels, and I will leave unchanged my long-standing bullish stock pick in Motley Fool CAPS (I have retained the pick since 2006, and issued interim calls periodically).