The shares of Wheaton Precious Metals (NYSE: WPM) jumped roughly 11% in March, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence. Although the stock headed higher through most of the month, there was a notable spike after earnings were released on March 20. Although it gave back some of the month's gains in the last couple of days of March, it was, overall, a good one for Wheaton and its shareholders.
The interesting thing here is that the earnings release wasn't as good as you might expect from the stock advance in March. Overall, revenue in 2018 was down nearly 6% and adjusted earnings fell around 23%. That's not a particularly great showing, but it wasn't unexpected as the company has been shifting toward a more balanced metals portfolio. That was on display in the full-year results, with gold production up 5% in 2018 and palladium production commencing during the year. Silver production was down nearly 14% in 2018, but that was basically part of the shift in the broader portfolio. Production, meanwhile, was higher than originally projected for all three precious metals, with gold production at record levels. That puts a far more positive spin on things than the raw numbers alone.
In addition to that news, the company also announced with earnings that a mine investment received a key approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The very next day, Wheaton released news that the project had also received the needed approvals from the U.S. Forest Service. According to Wheaton, that was the final administrative step in the permitting process for the Rosemont Mine in Arizona. Although still a long way from production, the mine is expected to add as much as 50,000 gold equivalent ounces to Wheaton's production when complete. So this was very good news.
The big long-term drivers at Wheaton are and always will be precious metals prices and production numbers. The final quarter of 2018 showed that Wheaton's move from a largely silver focused streaming company to one with a more diverse portfolio of metals is moving along nicely. The news about the Rosemont Mine was an additional positive. Shareholders should be generally pleased.
That said, there was nothing in March that changed the long-term picture here. Investors looking for precious metals exposure should indeed take a look at Wheaton, which is relatively inexpensive compared to its closest streaming peers. But that was also the case before March.