Equinox Gold: A Win-Win Merger

02/03/2020 5:00 am EST

Focus: COMMODITIES

Ian Wyatt

Publisher & Chief Investment Strategist, Wyatt Investment Research

Gold returns are generally correlated to panic: The more nervous investors are, the more likely they are to flee to the safety of gold, asserts Ian Wyatt, editor of Million Dollar Portfolio.

Overall, 2019 was pretty sanguine. That’s why it might seem a bit odd that Equinox Gold (EQX) was one of our top performers. We’re up nearly 90% since I added it to our holdings last January, even though there hasn’t really been anything to panic about.

My feeling is that’s because it’s a fundamentally sound company, hitting its targets and making to the right moves to be profitable even when gold isn’t necessarily in demand.

Equinox was just getting started when we first recommended it. Since then, it’s begun commercial production and successful produced 201,000 ounces (oz) of gold in 2019, hitting its production guidance.

While full-year financials won’t be available until March, it looks like it was a successful year. It started production on July 1, 2019 at is Aurizona gold mine and produced more than 200,000 oz of gold in just six months.

Costs have been so contained, Equinox achieved profitability in its first quarter of production, despite the fact that gold prices have been a bit lackluster at best.

On top of that, it secured a $130 million investment from Mubadala Investment Co., a sovereign wealth fund owned by the government of Abu Dhabi. It also arranged a $130 million revolving credit facility, which still has an available $10 million available to draw, and $68 million of available cash.

On top of that, Equinox has announced that it will be merging with Leagold Mining (Toronto: LMC). Leagold is a gold miner that caught my attention several months ago, mostly thanks to its management team and operational strength, and I’d been watching it since. It honestly hadn’t occurred to me that the two might merge.

The combined entity will be capable of producing 700,000 oz of gold this year and will likely bump over 1 million ounces in 2021, from mines spanning the U.S., Mexico and Brazil. Once the deal is done, Equinox will jump from a market capitalization of roughly $950 million to $1.3 billion.

I’ve been running the math on reserves and production costs, and I don’t see how this deal can miss. Once the merger is done, the combined company should remain cash positive as long as gold remains above about $1,150 an ounce and can hold its own around $1,000 per ounce.

So, this isn’t a deal to panic over, no matter which way gold prices break from here. Continue buying Equinox Gold at market.

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