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Now that an epic blow has landed on the chin of Kinross Gold (NYSE: KGC ) , and a completed ten count ends with a hungry competitor still standing on its own two feet, I believe the time has come for investors to get in the corner of this seriously discounted gold miner.
Shortly after I added Kinross to my list of the top 10 gold stocks for 2012, I was sucker-punched by a double-digit decline in its shares when the company announced an impending non-cash goodwill impairment charge and a reassessment of the company's strategic growth plans. Fools who may have missed it are encouraged to review The Comprehensive View of Kinross Gold. But now, following this week's release of the annual report, I can confirm that this major gold producer remains a severely underappreciated powerhouse in the wake of its hardest-fought round yet.
Kinross certainly lost this particular round, recording a $2.78 billion net loss in the fourth quarter as a result of a $2.94 billion non-cash charge relating primarily to the company's Tasiast project in Mauritania. But in the midst of that thrashing, Kinross landed a few punches in 2011 by turning in the best operational performance in the company's history.
For the full year, Kinross produced a noteworthy 2.6 million gold-equivalent ounces (GEOs), expanding revenue 31% to $3.94 billion. In the face of substantial cost pressures, cash margins grew 32% to $906 per ounce sold. With robust cash flow and an existing cash balance of $1.76 billion in place to support the company's pending adjusted growth plans, Kinross saw fit to increase its dividend by 33% for semi-annual payments of $0.08 per share. At the current share price, that amounts to an annual yield near 1.5%. Rival Goldcorp (NYSE: GG ) enjoyed a far-meatier cash margin on its 2011 gold sales of 2.5 million ounces, but returns cash to shareholders at a rate of only 1.2% annually.
As cheap as membership in Mickey's gym
Superfluous Rocky references aside, I find it difficult to overstate how extremely undervalued Kinross' shares have become after a spate of losing rounds for shareholders. Longstanding Fools may recall a particularly successful valuation call that I made on shares of Silver Wheaton (NYSE: SLW ) some years ago at the moment that stock carved a multiyear low. Silver Wheaton's share valuation at the time amounted to $1 per ounce of silver in the ground; which in turn represented a discount of about 90.5% from the spot-market value of that massive in-ground treasure. Fast-forward to today, and we find Kinross' 88 million ounces of combined proven and probable reserves with measured and indicated resources fetching an enterprise value equivalent to just $128.30 per ounce of gold! Relative to the current spot price, that's a discount of 92.5% for one of the world's most prolific gold producers.
In my view, a bargain valuation this extreme will not stand for long amidst this ongoing precious metals bull market, and I encourage value-oriented Fools to take a close look. Accordingly, I have just flagged my longstanding CAPScall on Kinross (initiated in 2006) as a top pick, and I invite my readers to follow suit. Although I personally retain a greater investment focus upon smaller-cap bargains Claude Resources (AMEX: CGR ) and Paramount Gold & Silver (AMEX: PZG ) -- particularly as both of those companies add value at a stunning clip at the tip of their exploration drills -- Kinross has entered what I view as an unsustainably disjointed market valuation for a quality portfolio of massive gold assets.
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