Newcrest Mining Limited’s profits sink, time to sell the gold miners?

Credit: Szaaman

The share price of Newcrest Mining Limited (ASX: NCM) has dropped sharply lower today after announcing full year results that revealed a 24% drop in underlying profit to US$323 million.

Unfortunately for shareholders the gold, silver and copper producer has not been able to capitalise on the rising gold price due to hedging a significant portion of its gold production until June 2019 at lower prices.

This meant that instead of posting strong revenue growth like OceanaGold Corporation (ASX: OGC) and Resolute Mining Limited (ASX: RSG), revenue from gold actually declined 3% to US$2,857 million.

Furthermore, a 24% drop in the realised price of copper meant revenue in the segment dropped 35% to US$403 million. Whilst silver revenue also dropped 5%, at just 1% of total revenue it doesn’t have any meaningful impact on results.

Although there wasn’t much to be positive about, a 27% reduction in debt to to US$2.1 billion was pleasing to see. As was the drop in Newcrest Mining’s All-In Sustaining Costs, which fell 2% from US$780 per ounce to US$762 per ounce thanks to record gold production from its Lihir mine.

Clearly this year Newcrest Mining’s hedging strategy hasn’t worked out favourably for it. But with a total of 730,749 ounces hedged at AU$1,747 through to FY 2019, it certainly would limit its losses should the gold price plummet in the next few years. But should you hold onto your shares?

With earnings per share coming in at 42.1 US cents (55 Australian cents), I feel its shares are looking overpriced at 44x earnings and run the risk of being cut down in the coming months. Although I feel most Australian gold producer shares are fully valued now, if the gold price were to surge higher then St Barbara Ltd (ASX: SBM) would be my pick of the lot.

But quite frankly, where the gold price goes next is anybody’s guess. Because of this I think that rather than risking money on the gold producers it would be better to focus on other areas of the market right now.

For example, these three new breed blue chip shares could be the ones to invest in instead of the gold miners as far as I am concerned.

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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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