What: El Dorado Gold Corp.'s (NYSE:EGO) shares fell just a touch less than 17% in November. That, however, is just part of a roughly 23% decline since mid October. The mid-October peak, meanwhile, was the culmination of a roughly 50% advance that started in the middle of September. What a roller coaster.
So what? El Dorado's shares have pretty much tracked the movements of gold over the past couple of months. But, there's more going on here than meets the eye. For example, in late October the miner released earnings that were, at best, mixed. All-in sustaining costs, basically what it costs to pull an ounce of gold out of the ground, were a solid $835 an ounce. But that was up from a year ago, so costs are going in the wrong direction while gold prices are falling.
Worse, the company announced that it was trimming the pay of its executives and board members by 10%, with the CEO taking a 20% haircut. The reason for this move was low commodity prices, which suggests the company sees the tough conditions it's facing as a lingering issue. No wonder the shares tanked along with the price of gold.
But wait -- there's more. El Dorado also has the distinction of running gold mines in some pretty interesting locales. Its main projects are in Greece, Romania, Turkey, Brazil, and China. That's some list, with many of the countries facing significant issues -- from Greece's financial woes to Turkey's recent downing of a Russian jet. So while gold prices are the story of the day, geopolitics is an issue to keep a close eye on, too.
Now what? If the management pay cuts are any indication, it looks as if El Dorado is hunkering down for a tough stretch. Add in the locations of its mines and there's even more uncertainty involved. All but the most aggressive investors should probably avoid this miner -- a fact that's true even if gold prices rally.