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Sometimes a shift in perspective is all that's needed to appreciate the sheer beauty of a prospective investment. Taking a fresh approach to assess the compelling opportunity that I believe resides in shares of Yamana Gold (NYSE: AUY ) , let's talk percentages.
Income investors rejoice: The dividends I indicated would emerge from these miners of gold have materialized in short order, and Yamana revved-up the party this week with a bold 50% increase of its quarterly dividend (to reach an annualized yield of 1.5%). When 50% of sales revenue is converted to operating profit, as was the case for Yamana in the first quarter, returning some cash to shareholder seems a wholly reasonable response.
A 1.5% yield may not sound like much of a windfall just yet, but it is 83% better than that of larger rival Goldcorp (NYSE: GG ) , and I believe Goldcorp will now feel at least 20% more compelled to re-raise its own payout. After all, Newmont Mining (NYSE: NEM ) recently upped its dividend by 33% to yield 1.5%, and Newmont boasts nowhere near the sort of production growth profile that makes Goldcorp such a prominent force in the industry.
Offering further enticement, Newmont has adopted an innovative dividend strategy that will see its quarterly payout raised $0.05 per share for every $100 increase in its realized sales price for gold. While Newmont may be the first to spell it out in an explicit formula, I feel 60% certain that 75% of gold mining executives have contemplated similar dividend increases to correspond with the rising price of gold. Agnico-Eagle Mines (NYSE: AEM ) still offers just a 1% yield, but the company has repeatedly stated its commitment to enhancing shareholder returns through dividend increases. Eldorado Gold (NYSE: EGO ) recently set an inaugural dividend for a preliminary yield of 0.6%. Clearly, miners view growth and income as compatible targets in this gold price environment, since each of the aforementioned miners -- with the exception of Newmont -- expects production growth of 50% or more by 2015. I wonder whether that particular tidbit raised an eyebrow over 50% of the eyes perusing this article.
Over in the particularly turbulent world of silver, Silver Wheaton (NYSE: SLW ) has initiated a token quarterly dividend of $0.03 per share, but former CEO Peter Barnes left investors with something tasty to nibble on when he revealed in March: "I don't see any reason why in the future we couldn't be paying out 40, 50 or 60 percent of our cash flow every year in dividends."
But wait; there is 25% more to this story. You see, after a tremendously successful year of exploration in 2010 -- which yielded a 23% expansion of the company's gold reserves (net of production) before the strategic sale of Agua Rica-- Yamana has decided to hike its 2011 exploration budget by 25% to reach an impressive $105 million campaign. I personally ascribe a 100% likelihood of additional exploration success for Yamana, and I look to that same organic growth potential as a likely catalyst to lessen the stock's 60% discount to my fair value estimate of $30 per share.
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