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Fortescue Metals Group Limited shares are up 230% this year: Can they go higher?

Credit: Chatham House

The good news for iron miners this morning is that the meltdown in iron ore prices came to an abrupt halt overnight.

Thanks partly to positive economic data out of China, according to the Metal Bulletin iron ore for delivery to Qingdao rebounded 8.7% to US$78.36 a tonne.

Despite this the share price of Fortescue Metals Group Limited (ASX: FMG) has edged lower today in morning trade. It would appear as though Australian investors are being sensible and not allowing speculative trading in China to influence their investment decisions.

Although its share price has dropped lower today, Fortescue’s shares are still up a whopping 233% so far this year.

This incredible gain is hardly surprising considering the rise in the iron ore price and the impressive way that the miner has paid down debt.

In the most recent quarter the company repaid a further US$700 million of debt, reducing net debt to US$4.2 billion inclusive of US$1.8 billion cash and finance leases of US$500 million.

It has been able to achieve this through the perfect combination of high prices and lower costs. Cash production costs (C1) have improved for 11 quarters in a row, dropping to US$13.55 per wet metric tonne last quarter.

This hot streak is expected to continue with management forecasting C1 costs of between US$12 and US$13 per wet metric tonne in FY 2017 based on an AUD/USD exchange rate of 0.75 cents and a WTI oil price averaging US$50 per barrel.

Whilst I’m a huge fan of Fortescue and believes its turnaround has been incredible, I wouldn’t rush out to invest in the miner now.

Nor would I invest in fellow iron ore miners Rio Tinto Limited (ASX: RIO), Atlas Iron Limited (ASX: AGO), or Mount Gibson Iron Limited (ASX: MGX).

Although their respective shares could keep climbing higher from here, I feel the iron ore price is destined to come crashing down once the speculative trading bubble bursts. There is a danger that this could put significant selling pressure on their shares.

When iron ore prices moderate I would happily look at an investment in Fortescue, but until then I’m happy to sit on the side lines.

In the meantime I think investors would be better off with investments in these three hot stocks. The smart money is on them being big winners in 2017.

Big, Fat, Dividends

This company's dividend is almost the stuff of legends. Its reliable cash flows support a high payout ratio, and the company's stash of franking credits are the cherry on the top of the dividend cake. Based on the last 12-months of dividends, shares are offering a fully-franked 6.5% yield, which grosses up to a whopping 9.3%, when those franking credits are included.

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Motley Fool contributor James Mickleboro has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. 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. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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