I've heard of stealthy hunters, but this tropical feline stood motionless for such an extended spell, I wondered whether it had stopped breathing altogether.

Jaguar Mining (NYSE: JAG) leapt back into life this week, crushing analysts' expectations for a penny per share with adjusted first-quarter earnings of $0.12 per share. Following one of the most disappointing tales of dastardly underperformance anywhere in the precious metals patch, could it be that Jaguar has finally rediscovered its stride? The market sure seems to think so, adding exactly $1 to the share price by Wednesday's close for a prompt 23% surge.

Like Fox Mulder, I want to believe. I want to believe that Jaguar will indeed improve 2011 production volume by 41% or more reach toward annual production of 200,000 ounces. After all, that had been the company's initial target for 2010 before a series of "geo-mechanical problems" at the Turmalina mine and a range of other shortcomings sent production tanking to 138,000 ounces even as the new Caete mine reached full production during October 2010.

For company executives and shareholders alike, I am sure 2010 is a year they would just assume bury under a pile of mine tailings. For as much reason as the market had to punish these shares, however, the end result does appear an astounding bargain for a producer with 4.26 million ounces of gold reserves beneath its Brazilian properties.

Comparing market capitalization relative to total resource ounces, Jaguar considers itself substantially undervalued even in comparison to several deep-bargain gold stocks that this Fool has highlighted separately in turn, including: Northgate Minerals (AMEX: NXG), Gammon Gold (NYSE: GRS), and Minefinders (AMEX: MFN). Each of those stocks had their reasons for shedding market value when they did, and I have argued that each is now poised for a powerful and sustained turnaround.

Today, Jaguar is busy touting its own turnaround story that calls for an aggressive 192% increase in annual production to 400,000 ounces by 2013. That plan hinges upon the successful construction of a new mine at Gurupi, which has blossomed into a 2.3 million-ounce deposit since Jaguar purchased the property from Kinross Gold (NYSE: KGC) for $39 million in 2009.

Perhaps it's because Jaguar once roped me in with a way-off-the-mark promise of 700,000 ounces per year by 2014, but I find myself approaching Jaguar's long-term growth projections with a gilded grain of salt. Truthfully, the manner in which Jaguar discontinued its Sabara operation, and cast-off more than a quarter-million ounces of measured and indicated gold, left this Fool with a sour aftertaste. Ever a sucker for deep value, however, I do hold a small stake in the shares. Still, among the subset of downtrodden gold miners that have historically fallen short of prior growth projections, I consider Yamana Gold (NYSE: AUY) a far-superior choice.