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What: Shares of gold and niobium miner IAMGOLD (NYSE:IAG) careened 10% lower Wednesday morning after the company reiterated 2013 production guidance for between 875,000 and 950,000 ounces, while revealing a substantial increase in projected total cash costs of between $850 and $925 per ounce (including royalties).
So what: Although industry analysts had prepared for some cost escalation after the miner revealed a range of operating challenges last November (see related article: "A Touch of Tarnish at IAMGOLD"), this cost escalation proved worse than expected. BMO Capital Markets had forecast 2013 costs of $730 per ounce, while Credit Suisse had anticipated costs of $652 per ounce. Given what we now know regarding prevailing cost dynamics after low-cost operators Goldcorp (NYSE:GG) and Yamana Gold (NYSE:AUY) began reporting an all-in cost metric, IAMGOLD's elevated cash costs are seen challenging the miner's ability to sustain positive cash flow for the year ahead.
Now what: While there can be no question that IAMGOLD faces a range of substantial near-term operating challenges at several key operations, with the shares now in single-digit territory I find the resulting value proposition for long-term investors extremely compelling. With the recently acquired Côté gold project already meaningfully enhanced with 7.6 million indicated ounces, a substantial treasury in cash and gold bullion, world-class niobium and rare-earth element assets, and a reiterated outlook for 80% production growth over the next five years, I view IAMGOLD shares beneath $10 per share as an unmistakable bargain.
Fool contributor Christopher Barker owns shares of Goldcorp (USA) and IAMGOLD (USA). The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
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