Smashing through the $2,000 threshold last week, the skyrocketing price of gold will certainly be another addition to the complicated chapter of history that is the year 2020. Besides the historically high unemployment rate, sporadic spikes of COVID-19 cases nationwide and fears that a second wave in Europe is imminent have investors turning to the yellow metal as a hedge against an economic downturn.
While the tide lifting the price of gold is high, many investors are holding on to the idea that it's bound to climb even higher, leading them to search for gold-oriented stocks that will add some sheen to their portfolios. Fortunately for them, there are some great gold stocks available to them this month, including Eldorado Gold (EGO 1.18%), Pretium Resources (PVG), and Royal Gold (RGLD 0.06%).
Investors panning the market for undervalued opportunities would be well-served to consider Eldorado Gold. Trading at 7.8 times operating cash flow, Eldorado's shares are on the discount rack right now, especially when considering the stock's five-year average cash flow multiple is 26.1, according to Morningstar. Besides bargain hunters, the stock may also pique the interests of growth investors, since the company's goal is to "strategically invest in underexplored, highly prospective areas that provide organic growth potential and access to high-quality assets."
Specifically, Eldorado is focused on developing assets, known as the Kassandra mines, in Greece -- projects that had been stalled due to unresolved issues with the government. In the first quarter, though, Eldorado reported that momentum was building on the projects' development. Furthermore, management acknowledged on the recent Q2 conference call that further progress has recently been made: The company acquired 100% of the outstanding shares of Hellas Gold, giving Eldorado "full ownership of the Kassandra assets and more flexibility for joint venture partnerships."
In terms of the company's operating assets, Eldorado booked a strong second quarter. Achieving gold production of 137,782 ounces, Eldorado reported a year-over-year increase of 50%. All-in sustaining costs (AISC) per gold ounce sold also improved compared to this time last year, falling from $917 in Q2 2019 to $859 in Q2 2020. This strong performance led management to reaffirm its 2020 outlook: gold production of 520,000 ounces to 550,000 ounces and AISC of $850-$950 per ounce sold.
Seeking a company that excels at converting gold into green? Look no further than Pretium Resources. The company operates only one asset, Brucejack, but it's a lustrous one. In the second quarter, for example, Pretium reported $82.7 million in free cash flow -- a company record.
While many mining companies had to suspend operations due to COVID-19 last quarter, operations at Brucejack remained steady. The company reported gold production of 90,419 ounces. Based on the strong performance in the first half of the year, management reaffirmed its 2020 gold production forecast: 325,000 ounces to 365,000 ounces. In addition, management remains focused on continuing exploratory activities surrounding Brucejack through the rest of the year.
Unlike its gold production forecast, though, management announced that it had updated its AISC forecast for 2020. With the implementation of safety measures related to COVID-19, management now expects 2020 AISC of about $1,040 per ounce -- higher than the original forecast of approximately $985 per ounce. Nonetheless, Pretium expects 2020 to glitter brightly. Revisiting its free cash flow outlook for 2020, management now expects the company to generate $205 million to $275 million in free cash flow, notably higher than its previous forecast of $100 million to $170 million.
While shares have ripped 30% higher over the past five days, I think that the stock is still attractive. Since the company began operations at Brucejack four years ago, we can't use a five-year average cash flow multiple to gauge the stock's price tag. Instead, we can compare the stock's current valuation to 2019. In doing so, we find that shares are on sale; they're trading at 9.8 times operating cash flow, lower than the 10.2 multiple they had in 2019.
Although gold mining stocks are popular ways to gain exposure to the yellow metal, they're far from the only ones. Investors who prefer a more conservative approach to investing in gold would be well-served to consider Royal Gold. Providing upfront capital to mining companies, Royal Gold gains the rights to purchase a certain amount of gold (or other metal) at a preset discounted price, or to receive a percentage of mineral production from a mine. Because of this business model, Royal Gold retains the ability to benefit from the high price of gold while not subjecting itself to the risk of developing and operating the assets.
For Royal Gold, 2020 was a year fit for a king. The company, which concludes its fiscal year in June, achieved records on several metrics. For one, Royal Gold reported 2020 revenue of $499 million, an 18% increase over the $423 million that it reported in 2019. Earnings and cash flow also shimmered brightly. Royal Gold reported record earnings per share and operating cash flow of $3.03 and $341 million, respectively.
For those who find Royal Gold's record-breaking performance in terms of the income statement and cash flow statement unremarkable, perhaps the glittering balance sheet will impress. Paying down $115 million in debt, Royal Gold ended 2020 with a net cash position of $18.7 million -- an advantageous position considering the COVID-19 crisis is far from over.
Walk down the yellow brick road with these golden opportunities
Ready to take advantage of the high price of gold, but don't know how to pursue an investment? Fortunately for you, there are several gold stocks that will appeal to various investors. Those interested in growth opportunities, for example, and who are willing to accept more risk will find that Eldorado Gold and Pretium Resources are two stocks worth considering right now. On the other hand, investors who are more averse to risk would be better off digging deeper into Royal Gold.