Teck Resources Ltd (NYSE:TECK) is a relatively small, diversified miner from Canada. It took some serious hits during the commodity downturn, but it also made some important changes through the tough years. Here are three reasons Teck Resources Ltd stock could rise from here.
Getting the house in order
There's no question that the commodity downturn that hit metallurgical coal, copper, and zinc -- Teck's three big commodities -- also took a toll on the miner's overall business. The company's top line fell each year between 2011 and 2015. Earnings followed the same pattern, with a multibillion-dollar asset impairment in 2015 pushing the bottom line deep into the red.
But, like other miners, Teck used the downturn to make changes. For example, year-over-year in the second quarter the miner was able to reduce costs in its coal business by 19%. It trimmed expenses by around 13% in copper. Clearly Teck has been hard at work cutting costs so it can better compete amid a low price environment.
Teck has also been doing some work on its finances. Although only a commodity upturn will really right the ship on the bottom line, the company's balance sheet had been looking a little risky. But, after extending its debt maturities, it now appears that the miner is on much sounder footing. For example, it pushed its next notable due date from 2017 to 2019, with 2021 being the year in which big debt maturities start to hit.
As investors get more comfortable with the changes Teck has made to improve the company's business, they will likely reward it with a higher price. That could be even more rewarding if commodities achieve a truly sustained trend upwards.
Oil in the dirt
The second big reason that Teck could move higher won't take place until late 2017 at the earliest, and that's the grand opening of the Fort Hills Oil Sands project. Teck has teamed up with Suncor Energy (NYSE:SU) and Total on this project that will add a fourth major commodity to Teck's business. Suncor owns a touch over 50% of the project, Teck 20%, and the rest is owned by Total. It's worth noting that Suncor, which has operational control of the project, is a major player in the oil sands region, so Teck appears to have teamed up with a good partner.
To be honest, the decision to move ahead with the project roughly six months before the big oil price meltdown in mid-2014 was less than auspicious. But Fort Hills should have a 50-year production life and it materially increases Teck's diversification. Assuming everything goes well with the project, which so far it has, when oil finally starts flowing investors are likely to react positively.
The oil expansion is actually part of a bigger issue -- namely, growth. Rio Tinto (NYSE:RIO), for example, is a giant $55 billion market cap miner with its fingers in everything from iron ore to uranium. Rio has to make big moves in order to grow. BHP Billiton (NYSE:BHP), another giant, came to the conclusion that it needed to slim down to grow, leading to the spin off of South32.
Teck, with only three current commodities and a more-modest $10 billion market cap, has a lot more opportunity to expand. That could come in the form of something as mundane as new mine development, which would have a bigger impact on its smaller business, or from entering new lines of business, like oil. Regardless of how it achieves growth, its smaller size should make it easier to achieve. Business growth would likely be perceived in a positive light by the market.
Down a different trail
There was a period during the downturn when investors were (rightly) concerned that Teck might not make it through to the other side, particularly since it had big bills coming due for the Fort Hills project. But with its financial house in order, Fort Hills closer to completion, and the potential for future expansion to benefit the relatively small miner, there's every reason to believe Teck shares could rise materially from where they are today.
Reuben Brewer has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Total. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.