Whitehaven share price up 20% in 5 weeks. Should you buy?

Are you missing the boat amid the rest of the market re-rating this ASX coal share?

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The Whitehaven Coal Ltd (ASX: WHC) share price is $7.61, down 2.5% for the day so far.

Over the past five weeks, this ASX coal share has been on a tear and is now up by 20.33%.

What's pushing the share price higher?

We investigate.

Why has the Whitehaven share price risen 20%?

The catalyst behind the rise of the Whitehaven share price in recent weeks appears to be the completed acquisition of two coal mines previously belonging to BHP Group Ltd (ASX: BHP).

This has led to several brokers reappraising Whitehaven's appeal for investment at today's share price.

Whitehaven bought the Daunia and Blackwater metallurgical coal mines for US$3.2 billion.

Whitehaven CEO Paul Flynn said the acquisition was transformative because it made Whitehaven a leading metallurgical coal producer overnight.

Argonaut analyst Harrison Massey also sees the significance, describing Whitehaven's thermal and metallurgical coal production as "about evenly split" post-acquisition, thereby enhancing the sales mix.

As we recently reported, Massey has a buy recommendation on the ASX 200 coal stock today.

He says Whitehaven now has "minimal competition" and "the risk of any new big suppliers emerging in the short term is low".

He's not the only analyst recommending that investors buy Whitehaven at today's share price.

Should you buy Whitehaven shares?

Michael Gable of Fairmont Equities says Whitehaven stock "looks cheap" when the two new mines are taken into account.

UBS has upgraded Whitehaven to a buy rating with an improved 12-month price target of $8.70.

Blackwattle Investment Partners portfolio managers Tim Riordan and Michael Teran recently told investors they had added to their Whitehaven holdings due to "significant catalysts ahead".

They said the market is yet to understand how the acquisition has improved the quality of the Whitehaven business and the deal is not yet reflected in the share price or trading multiples.

According to CommSec data, Whitehaven shares are trading on a price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of 5.79x.

Last week Goldman Sachs retained its neutral rating on Whitehaven but raised its share price target by 28% from $5.80 to $7.40 based on the Daunia and Blackwater acquisitions.

The broker raised its net asset value (NAV) by 12% from $6.10 per share to $6.80 per share.

In a note, the broker said:

We value Blackwater and Daunia at ~A$6bn (~US$4bn) excluding the present value (PV) of provisions (~A$750mn).

We are below Visible Alpha Consensus Data on production and EBITDA (note includes deduction of US$900mn of contingent payments) for the next 2-3 years and think that FY25 capex and cost guidance for the Qld assets could disappoint vs. consensus when released with the FY24 results.

The consensus among 14 analysts covering Whitehaven shares on CommSec is a moderate buy rating.

Motley Fool contributor Bronwyn Allen has positions in BHP Group. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has positions in and has recommended Goldman Sachs Group. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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