The question for investors, after watching many companies' share prices recover and even go on to be multi-baggers, is whether those shares warrant continued purchases. Let's try to answer this question for copper, gold, and molybdenum producer Freeport-McMoRan (NYSE:FCX), which has watched its shares rise from just under $17 in early December, to touching $30 in February, and on to a close above $70 yesterday.

Freeport is little different from most of the other minerals and metals companies that fell last year, and then worked their way back at least partially during the first half of 2009. That group includes the two big Anglo-Australian miners, BHP Billiton (NYSE:BHP) and Rio Tinto (NYSE:RTP), Brazil's Vale (NYSE:VALE), along with U.S. Steel (NYSE:X). All plummeted severely, only to claw their way back to higher levels.

Indeed, even the aluminum manufacturer likes of Alcoa (NYSE:AA) and Kaiser Aluminum (NASDAQ:KALU) have displayed some buoyancy. As mentioned above, however, Freeport has risen like Grandma's pound cake, along with the price of copper, which has about doubled from its sub-$1.50 low last December.

To its further benefit, the company has managed to trim 35% a pound from its consolidated production and delivery costs. And with production in North and South America, along with Indonesia, Freeport is in the final start-up stages of opening its modern Tenke Fungurume copper and cobalt development project in Africa's Democratic Republic of Congo.

As a result, its capex is anticipated to slide from $2.7 billion in 2008 to $1.4 billion this year and on to $1.0 billon in 2010. Once the project is running all-out, it likely will produce 250 million pounds of copper and 18 million pounds of cobalt for the year.

So we return to our original question: Is Freeport a buy, sell, or hold? From my perspective, it might make sense to slowly acquire the company's shares. Freeport is loaded with geographically diverse, high quality, assets and has managed to increase production while decreasing costs. Beyond that, it's the world's largest publicly traded copper producer, the largest factor in the molybdenum market, and a significant gold producer. And it continues to search for added reserves in all three areas.

Finally, the Wall Street Journal reported last week on the rumor that BHP might be looking to go on a shopping spree. In an admitted exercise in limb crawling, it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if Freeport weren't prominent in BHP's sights.

Freeport-McMoRan has been rated four out of a possible five stars by Motley Fool CAPS players. Does this include your ranking?

Fool contributor David Lee Smith doesn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned. He does welcome your questions or comments. The Fool has an ironclad disclosure policy.