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New Mines Drive Royal Gold, Hurdles at Mount Milligan Ail

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On Jun 28, we issued an updated research report on Royal Gold, Inc. RGLD. The company is poised to gain from improved production and progress in ramping up of new mines, as well as its debt-reduction efforts. However, inadequate water supplies at Mount Milligan and volatile gold prices are expected to affect its results.

Let’s illustrate these growth factors in detail.

Royal Gold to Gain From New Mines

Royal Gold expects to start initial production from Peñasquito Pyrite Leach in LaRonde Zone 5 later in calendar year 2018, followed by Cortez Crossroads’ production. The company will also release the preliminary economic assessment at Peak Gold. Notably, Royal Gold expects production at Rainy River to improve throughout this calendar year, by approximately 15% to 24,000 tons per day, due to improvements in output, grade and recoveries.

Debt Reduction Activities on Track

Royal Gold reduced its debt for the fifth straight quarter by paying down another $75 million during third-quarter fiscal 2018. For the remainder of fiscal 2018, the company continues to expect to pay down debt aggressively and will fully repay the remaining $75-million outstanding under its revolving credit facility by the end of this June.

Following the repayment of the revolving credit facility, Royal Gold’s only remaining indebtedness will be $370 million of convertible bonds, slated to mature in June 2019. Currently, it plans to repay the principal amount of bonds in cash using cash flow and availability under $1-billion revolving credit facility. The company now has more than $1 billion of total liquidity for new opportunities.

Operational Roadblocks at Mount Milligan

Following a temporary shutdown at the end of December 2017 due to insufficient water, milling operations restarted at Mount Milligan during the fiscal third quarter. Thus, inadequate water supplies and lower processing rates will remain major headwinds for production in the near term.

Further, the temporary shutdown will negatively impact Royal Gold’s results in fiscal 2019,  as  some  of  the  deliveries  of  gold  and  copper  that  were  expected  in  the  June-through-August 2018 period will be deferred to a later date.

Volatile Gold Prices a Concern

The volatile gold price environment remains a concern for Royal Gold. The prices of the metal will remain highly volatile throughout the calendar-year 2018, mainly due to higher interest rate and strong U.S. dollar.

Share Price Performance

Royal Gold's shares have outperformed the industry it belongs to, over the past year. Its shares have gained around 19%, while the industry recorded loss of 4% during the same time frame.



Zacks Rank & Stocks to Consider

Royal Gold currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

Some better-ranked stocks in the same sector are FMC Corporation FMC, KMG Chemicals, Inc. KMG and Methanex Corporation MEOH. All three stocks sport a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

FMC Corporation has a long-term earnings growth rate of 14%. The stock has rallied 20% in a year’s time.

KMG Chemicals has a long-term earnings growth rate of 28.5%. The company’s shares have gained 53% during the past year.

Methanex Corporation has a long-term earnings growth rate of 15%. Its shares have appreciated 59% over the past year.

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