It doesn't take much scrutiny of the headlines or social media to realize that tensions are running high. With nationwide protests, soaring unemployment claims, and general unease around COVID-19, investors are concerned about what lies ahead. When uncertainty grows, the price of gold usually climbs.
Does this mean that investors should start buying gold bars? Not at all. There are plenty of other options for gaining exposure to the yellow stuff, such as Eldorado Gold (NYSE:EGO), Kirkland Lake (NYSE:KL), and Wheaton Precious Metals (NYSE: WPM) -- three gold-affiliated stocks that are attractive for investors looking to add some sheen to their portfolios.
Progress in Greece could grease the wheels of growth
In business for nearly 30 years, Eldorado Gold is a mining company with gold interests on several continents. While it operates the Lamaque mine in Canada and is developing the Tocantinzinho project in Brazil, Europe holds the lion's share of the company's proven and probable gold reserves( approximately 84% as of Sept. 30, 2019).
According to the company's recent Q1 earnings presentation, Eldorado may glitter brightly in 2020. While the COVID-19 outbreak forced the company to place Lamaque on care and maintenance for about three weeks, management remains committed to the company's consolidated 2020 gold production forecast of 520,000 to 550,000 ounces. That would be a roughly 35% year-over-year increase from the gold production of 395,331 ounces reported in 2019. Moreover, management forecasts 2020 all-in sustaining costs of about $900 per gold ounce. This prediction suggests that the company may generate an impressive margin this year, as the price of gold has averaged $1,629 per ounce in 2020 so far.
Skouries, a project in development, is another source of excitement. Eldorado reported that it recently received installation permits from the Greek government and consent from the Central Archaeological Council, suggesting that it's getting closer to full approval to move forward. Skouries has an estimated 23-year life of mine and average annual gold production of 140,000 ounces, so the site's apparent advancement is an auspicious sign.
Take a gander at this gilded dividend
Characterizing itself as a "leading senior gold producer," Kirkland Lake is a mining company that demands consideration. Unlike many of its peers, Kirkland Lake doesn't have a balance sheet weighed down with debt. In fact, it ended the first quarter of 2020 with a net cash position of $531 million.
The company's cash flow statement also warrants recognition. In 2019, for example, Kirkland Lake reported free cash flow of $463 million, representing 33.6% of sales. The company's ability to turn gold into green continued in Q1, when it reported a free cash flow of $130.9 million -- a year-over-year increase of 29%.
Management's commitment to rewarding shareholders should shine brightly in investors' eyes. In Q1, for example, the company repurchased 9.7 million shares for $329 million. It also doubled the quarterly dividend to $0.125 per share, representing the company's sixth dividend increase since 2017.
Go with the stream
For investors uninterested in mining companies, there are other avenues: royalty and streaming companies. These enterprises provide upfront capital to mining companies in exchange for the ability to receive a percentage of an asset's mineral production, or the right to purchase metals at a preset price. Royalty and streaming companies like Wheaton Precious Metals offer investors alternative approaches for gold exposure.
Spanning three continents, the Wheaton Precious Metals portfolio includes 20 operating projects and nine in development. It partners with global mining leaders like Barrick Gold and Newmont Corporation.
Thanks partly to the rising price of gold in 2020, Wheaton Precious Metals reported revenue of $255 million in the first quarter of 2020, marking a 13% increase year over year. Similarly, the company significantly improved its operating cash flow: It generated $177.6 million in Q1 2020, or 50% more than the $118.2 million it reported in Q1 2019. Additionally, the company shored up its balance sheet in the quarter, reducing its net debt by $182 million.
A final glance at these glimmering opportunities
Wheaton Precious Metals is the best option for investors looking to use gold as a safe haven. The company is less exposed to the hazards of mining development projects, so picking up some of its stock carries less risk.
For investors comfortable with a more speculative stock, Eldorado Gold is a viable choice. If the Skouries project commences operations, shareholders should be rewarded. It seems especially intriguing considering its price tag. The stock is trading at 6 times operating cash flow, which is a notable discount to its five-year average of 26.
Kirkland Lake also appears to be a bargain, changing hands at 8.4 times operating cash flow -- well below its five-year average multiple of 9.8.