Should I Put Centamin in My Portfolio?

LONDON -- Centamin  (LSE: CEY  ) is a mining company focussed on gold production. The shares have recently endured a rough ride due to disruption of operations at its Sukari mine in Egypt.

This started with an Egyptian court judgement back in October that declared Centamin's license to mine gold at Sukari was invalid. Centamin is appealing this. Production was then suspended in December following a dispute with a fuel supplier.

The bull case
The case for buying Centamin rests on two pillars: resolution of issues between the company and Egyptian authorities and the possibility of further increases in the price of gold.

If Centamin can successfully appeal the previous judgement then the shares could return to the level that they were at before problems surfaced. This is almost twice the current share price.

As central banks around the world have been printing money, demand for gold has been increasing. This has pushed the price of the precious metal to record highs. Central bankers worldwide have been continuing to inject their economies with printed money via quantitative easing. This process had helped support gold prices in recent years and shows little sign of ending any time soon.

The bear case
Following the disruptions, Centamin shares have become tainted with political risk. It is clear that persons entirely outside of the company can make decisions that could prove disastrous for investors.

I believe that many people have been buying gold, not as a hedge against inflation, equities, or currency debasement but because they believe its price will increase. In the last three months, however, gold is down 1.9%. Over the year, the price of gold has risen just 0.6%.

By contrast, the FTSE 100 index is up 7.9% in the last quarter and 9.4% in 12 months. If gold investors decide that equities are the better bet, then the rush for the exit could be dramatic.

There is also the risk that security issues affecting Algeria and Libya could spread to Egypt.

My verdict
I will be steering clear of Centamin's shares. The news from Egypt and elsewhere means that buying the shares would be more like speculating on the local political and security situation than investing in assets.

Still, it is easy to see how investors could make big gains on Centamin shares. Careful selection of shares in the mining sector can work wonders for your wealth. For more strategies detailing how you could make fantastic returns using the stock market, get the free Motley Fool report "10 Steps to Making a Million in the Market." To get this report simply click here to start reading today.


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