Kevin Cook

Bear of the Day: Agnico Eagle Mines (AEM)

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July 15, 2013 |

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I last wrote about Agnico Eagle Mines (AEM - Analyst Report) as a Zacks #5 Rank Strong Sell on April 2, right before they missed earnings estimates by 35%.

That was also before I decided to short gold above $1450 an ounce in May to take advantage of what I thought was becoming a bear market for the barbarous relic.

Since then, AEM has fallen from $40 a share to as low as $25 in late June when gold fell below $1200. You can access that Bear of the Day report here.

Things Could Improve for AEM, But...

Here's a summary note from Zacks Research on July 4, with a price target of $29:

We are upgrading our recommendation on Agnico-Eagle to Neutral. Profit for the first quarter slid roughly 70% on lower gold prices and production as well as higher cash costs. Adjusted earnings fell well short of the Zacks Consensus Estimate. Revenues fell by double digits, yet beat expectations.

The company backed its production guidance for the full year. Agnico-Eagle maintains a solid exploration budget and is reinvesting in its assets to expand output. Moreover, the company s revised life of mine plan is expected to yield significant free cash flows over the next several years.

However, any potential delay associated with the development projects may jeopardize its future production. We are also concerned about high operating costs across a number of mines.

Gold Miners Still Buried

I proposed as early as February when gold began its breakdown below $1600 that the miners would continue to remain under pressure as analysts had to keep lowering their earnings estimates.

Why would they have to keep doing that? To keep up with the falling price of gold.

Joining AEM as a Zacks #5 Rank in one of the lowest-ranked industry groups (244 out of 265), are Randgold (GOLD - Snapshot Report), Royal Gold (RGLD - Snapshot Report), Yamana Gold (AUY - Snapshot Report), Anglogold Ashanti (AU), and Allied Nevada (ANV).

While many gold worshippers will be searching for a bottom in the shiny metal at these levels, don't bet on these miners until their earnings outlooks can get out of the dirt.

Their fortunes are tied to the current downtrend and the turn-arounds could take a while.

Kevin Cook is a Senior Stock Strategist with Zacks.com

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