Selecting explorers and junior miners

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Gwyde
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Selecting explorers and junior miners

Many of us junior mining investors, have their list of stocks they follow and/or are invested in. Our aim is "keeping track of market tendencies and trying to figure out which juniors perform better and why". 

In a new blog post, you can read a few things I consider important in selecting explorers and juniors. It also is an extended backing of this opening post.

http://gwyde.blogspot.com/2012/03/selecting-explorers-and-junior-miners.html

Writing something sensible on picking explorers doesn’t make me a stock-picking expert. Though I may find a good reason not to consider over half the stocks I come across, there will be enough failures among those I consider suitable picks… and the one real gem in there, I might take a profit on after it doubled… This is the main drive that made me to come up with:

The contributor driven explorer spreadsheet

Pooling efforts with any cooperative peers out there, I started the “contributor driven explorer spreadsheet”. The idea is to get a selection of explorers or junior producers of silver and/or gold. The first focus is on Canadian listed explorers, but I may take on board a junior with main listing on the ASX or the LSE as well.

The selection should then be the basis of a discussion forum open for comments on and links to drilling results for the explorers, operational results for junior producers and investment plans with their financing conditions for both.

Included as a benchmark are some of ‘the classics’: PM Mining leveraged plays NUGT and DUST, PM mining ETF’s: Market Vectors GDX and GDXJ, the Global X Gold explorer ETF GLDX and silver mining ETF SIL, the HUI and XAU mining index.

There is one important difference: Unlike the explorer and junior mining ETF's mainly slanted towards mid-cap stocks, we mainly target precious metal micro-caps with a total market capitalization smaller than $200 M, but small-caps below $1 Billion are also eligible for inclusion. We make distinction between penny stocks and others, but the share price is not considered an inclusion criterion. Successful juniors will remain on the list unless they grow to the mid-cap range (over $2 Billion).

The contributor driven explorer spreadsheet was started late October 2011. After five months, we are just above break even (on March 26). Yet including the stocks deleted (‘exile’-sheet) we would be posting a 2% loss. This disappointing result however compares favourably to the 24.7% loss on the GLDX Etf (which comes closest in focus) or the 20.6% loss on GDXJ.

Starting off, I included a ‘draft category’ of explorers without a thorough selection process. Picturesquely, I call it the selection of the blindfolded chimp throwing darts.

Edited by admin on 11/08/2014 - 06:19

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Spreadsheet update

The spreadsheet (URL in opening post) was updated using Friday March 30 closing prices. In spite of the explorer and miner slide since Monday March 26 (previous data), we end almost flat. Our contributor driven explorer and junior list is up 0.5% on average (down from 0.8% on Monday). Thanks to some nice gains today, we recover most of the loss incurred. 'Draft list' components Sandstorm Gold and Melkior Resources are leading the selection with gains-to-date of 47% and 40%.

I have added yet another performance feature: a capitalization weighted (aggregate) performance. Market capitalizations are highly different among the components of our list, ranging from nano-caps to decent small-caps. Weights are truncated to 400 for components with a market cap over C$ 400 M. In order to avoid any 'winners bias', weights are determined as the market capitalizations at inclusion or on Oct 27, 2011. Surprise: our cap weighted performance at 4.3% is significantly better than the average one.

We must have been more fortunate in picking our elite juniors... or else this market segment is simply outperforming that of the nano-cap 'early stage' explorers on a broader scale. If so, this may also have contributed to our list outperforming BOG's penny stock list lately. Few weeks ago, there was little difference in portfolio performance. 

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Left in agony...

The perception of Bernanke's last speech, is that there is no immediate need for more QE. The economy may still be weak and zero interest rates are there to stay for a few more years. Not enough for the liquidity junkies, who sent precious metals in a two day sell-off. Markets have stabilized on this last trading day before Easter and precious metals are firming again. Yet miners ignore any improvement in the situation and continue their downward spiral. This week, majors have taken the full blow. Among juniors only few are left standing, with some explorers badly beaten up.

Have a look at the updated 'contributor driven explorer and junior miner spreadsheet' (link in opening post) to check out for yourself. We are down over 6% from an average gain of +0.5% to a loss of -5.8% on the total portfolio. Our cap-weighted return is off worse: down 8% from +4.3% to -3.7%. The better picks saw prior gains dwindle.

With a grain of luck (+17.9% for Melkior Res. and +10% for Brixton) we are up 0.5% today (but cap-weighted we slide another 1.8%).

On Bag of Gold's penny list, the jump of Silvermex (after the bid of First Majestic) couldn't make up for the slide of the majority of penny stocks. The portfolio loss aggravates from -10% to -15.5%.

What I mean with "majors having taken the full blow" is clear when checking "Ron Paul's" portfolio list. The aggregate loss is now at -15.05%. Heavyweights in the portfolio such as Goldcorp made an astounding slide. We 're left in agony...

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well said G

yes, good summary....but only I would add a few  details...... we can look at the charts and see many miners having traded in a Range over the last few years..... Goldcorp is a good example with a top zone around  55 and support  bottom around 40 (or should that be stretched down to 37 and 35 ?)

Eldorado  gold  top zone around 20 - 22 and bottom around 12 (or should that be stretched to 11?)

Fortuna silver top zone around 7  and bottom around 4

etc..... we're at the bottom zone in many if not most .

I always find it puzzling to see the share price go way up, then come way down....and I'm always saying   "What IS the real value of this miner?" Is it somewhere in the middle zone ? 

Is Eldorado Gold a good value at 12 ?   In fact, as I look at EGO on the weekly chart.... the elliott  wave structure , from last years top at 22 to the current low at 12.80..... is a very clear wave structure to count.  the current  sideways movement of choppiness  since the last  december low,to the february top is a clear wave 4 structure. you can count an ABC, but it could also be continuing a wave 4 as ABCD with E still to come IF share price  goes UP to retest the february highs around  15 area. Or the current wave 4 structure could be completed at the february high, and the down wave 5 is now ongoing ....again, easy to see and count...as  subwaves 1,and 2 completed, and This week  has begun the 'wave 3' portion  of 5 subwaves going down to target the 11 area.   If what we are looking at is a wave 5 going down, the target zone is  around 11 for a bottom  for EGO. meaning more bleeding  to come in the next week or two. The target zone is either  up to test the february high around 15 or down to test the 11 dollar area. 

I didnt mean to get into this technical analysis of elliott wave here, but it just jumped out at me  looking at the candlesticks and wave structure. 

EGO is sitting now at the 200 Moving average on the weekly chart, a good place for a reversal bounce and recovery  to   try and target the higher levels around 15........ but boy oh boy the elliott waves are looking more foreboding  for the wave 5 down to target 11 area.  It will take brave folks to buy more EGO  as a falling knife at 11.

Goldcorp has bottom targets around 38.  but also 37....35 ?! yikes.    

These two majors   could be telling us to anticipate another leg Down in the coming few weeks.. A bargain for the brave.

and of course, what Most shocking about all this, is that back in early 2010,the level we are looking at now for EGO and GG to drop  to as a bottom target....Spot gold was 1100  !!  theres the disconnect from  the relationship of metals and miners.

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Relief rally and Bonanza grades...

The juniors and explorers have suffered flagellation and crucifixion. It's about time for resurrection. Today's relief rally is a good start. Our contributor driven explorer and junior list is however still down 3.8% on average and 0.9% weighed.

We have been lucky: Melkior resources surged 42% after bonanza grades (gold: 52g/tonne) were found over a 3.7m layer. Melkior is up 100% since the start of this list. I will take it off the list and move it to the 'Successful Exit' compartment. Beaufield Res is also up double digits, but Goldrush Res. had an off-day.

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Down the shaft

As is heard often, miners take the stairs up but -as sentiment turns sour- take the elevator down. It seems our explorers haven't the patience anymore to wait for the elevator. They rather jump down the shaft. Today, the brakes are on, as the slide halted.

The “contributor driven explorer spreadsheet” is now down to an average loss of 12.9%. The cap weighed loss is 5.9%. Only 6 of our picks are still up since their inclusion. Our only Aussie pick: Medusa Mining is doing well. Guess malignant shorters are petrified smiley. As announced last week, I took the profit on Melkior Res., there are no further changes to this list. 

Silvermex has been removed from BOG's penny stock list after the acquisition deal. On this penny stock list the week was equally catastrophic: the average loss now amounts to 22.4%. Yet you'd be off even worse with the explorer ETF GLDX, which shed 33.8% over that same period. There's no place to hide.frown

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Have we seen the bottom?

The "contributor driven explorers (and junior miners) list has been updated. For the link see the opening post of the thread. Chadilac has contributed a new pick: Alexis Minerals Corp. (AMC.TO), a small miner (5,500 Oz last quarter) in Quebec / Manitoba. On the flip side, AMC has a $22 M debt to pay back the next few years.

One of the 'draft entries' was deleted as to keep the number of explorers/junior miners within limits. Nuinsco Res J has been moved to the 'exile list' as of April 20.

Have we seen the bottom? Well our list is down 10.6% on Friday, against 12.9% on Friday April 20. Looks not too bad, but excluding the effect of the deletion of laggard Nuinsco, the improvement is only 0.6%. Only 5 explorers/juniors are posting a gain since inclusion, 4 are at break-even and 17 post a loss.

About the 'other lists' : 

  1. BOG's penny stock list is now down 26.2% (from 22.4%). Malbex screwed it up with poor drilling results. Moneta Porcupine gave back its gains and Unigold turned from gains to losses. Only three pennies stay out of the red. The Global X Gold explorer ETF: GLDX is however down 30.8% since the start of monitoring.
  2. Ron Paul's selection is down 18.37%, up from a 19.17% loss. However the aggregate loss (using the weights as determined by the brackets disclosed) doesn't improve (due to the slide of GoldCorp).

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No improvement

There isn't any improvement yet over last week's situation. The contributor driven explorer and junior miner spreadsheet is now down 13.6%. West-African miner Axmin lost 20% today, hampering thereby any recovery. It's a poor consolation that the aggregated loss (using the weight factors) is 'only' 3.6%. But this does indicate that our elite junior miners (with a larger market cap) hold up better than the 'early stage' explorers.

In the mean time the Global X Gold Explorers Etf (GLDX) is down 33.8% since I started the spreadsheet back end October 2011.

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A major shake-up

While painful, it's often necessary to prune laggards in a miner portfolio. In a major shake-up five of the "draft" components were moved to the exile list. The total losses we incurred on those now exceed the gains we realized on our "Successful Exit" list. Too bad, but it makes no sense keeping on board a list of penny stock explorers low on cash and doomed to dilute into oblivion. Sandstorm gold went through a share consolidation and the entry price has been adapted accordingly.

As of today, a selection of five junior miners join the selection. I'm paying tribute to Eric O for his solid research on miners with Canadian, American or Mexican operations only (as to avoid location risk), with a solid balance sheet and decent reserves (size matters) and who didn't sell their soul in royalty deals.

The five miners enter the selection at today's price level. Here's the copy-paste selection of the list as posted by Eric:

Atna Resources:  Atna has the Briggs Mine in California producing around 40,000 per year, but the big news is the recent consolidation of the Pinson property in Nevada.  This fully permitted 12 g/t underground project should be operational by YE 2012, and shooting for an annual rate of about 75,000 for next year.  They are funding it all through cash flows and a small line of credit.  No stock dilution.

Argonaut Gold:  Open pit operations in Mexico, with stellar operational success so far with their initial mine.  Start up of a second operation is underway.   Guidance for 2012 is 88,000 to 97,000, while 2013 looks more like 130,000, all at industry average costs.

Aurizon Mines:  A favorite buyout candidate as far as I'm concerned.  A single top quality underground mine in Quebec, and lots of cash.  Still a great buy even if you value all their development projects at zero.   Casa Berardi should keep cranking out about 160,000 per year, for years and years to come, at below average costs.

Kirkland Lake Gold:  Steady resurrection of a historic Ontario motherlode that logged past production in excess of 20 million ounces.  Currently producing around 80,000 per year, though at above average costs.  Mill expansions are underway that should vault KGI to 250,000 to 300,000 per year by 2014, with costs improving.

Timmins Gold:  They've successfully restarted the former producing San Francisco open pit mine in Mexico, and are posting good growth in resources and production.   They're currently going at an annualized rate of around 86,000 per year, with expansion programs underway to hit a steady 130,000 per year by 2013.

... there are more, but I had selected Aurcana on this list before and the other junior miners are covered in the miners spreadsheet with reserve/resource and valuation data.

​Despite our pruning the list, the loss (including components removed) is up to 10.8%. On the current selection we are down 11.4%. Yet it seems we've been lucky: Penny explorer stocks were beaten up relentlessly; it's therefore hardly surprising that on BOG's list the loss is aggravating to 30.2%. Majors offered little protection lately. On Ron Paul's selection, the average loss increases to 25.6%. Aggregated (using the weight factors) the loss is at 22.8%.

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We will survive

We have been to hell and back this week. If among majors, we could already talk about capitulation, what was around for juniors and explorers?

You can look for yourselves on the fresh update of the “contributor driven explorer and junior spreadsheet”. We are down 16.2% now, against 11.4% last week. Hardly catastrophic, considering the carnage that took place. Among the new picks (the selection from Eric's list) Argonaut holds on to a small gain and two (Atna, Aurizon) are down only little. Kirkland is off 9.3% and Timmins Gold down almost 20%. The damage is still larger among the micro-caps (mostly the penny stocks on the list), since the loss weighed (by capitalization) is still only 10.5% !

Seems our strategy is not too bad. Unfortunately on BOG's list the loss (for those using a buy&hold approach) is up to 35.9%. On Ron Paul's portfolio, we face a 30% loss, but weighed (using the brackets disclosed) the damage is 'only' 23.7%. 

Seems we will survive...

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No fun anywhere, on any list.

No fun anywhere, on any list.  crying

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Recovering

A weekly overview on how junior miners and explorers evolved: Gains are unevenly spread, but the contributor driven explorer & junior spreadsheet is recovering well. The average loss is down to 12.9% from 16.2%. The focus on junior producers starts paying off as we are up on Argonaut, Aurizon, Atna and Kirkland Gold. Only Timmins is still a drag, but the stock is up today. What's important: the (truncated) market cap weighed result now is down only 6.2% (was down 10.5%), an implicit indication that early stage explorers are still rather depressed. We have 7 list components up, against 18 down with 1 break even.

This is also what the result of BOG's list tells us. The penny stock explorer list is at an aggregate loss of 32.9% (was 35.9%). The slide of Cream Minerals has been a drag on this list. Currently only 3 components are out of the red. For the record: the GLDX Gold explorer ETF still is down 40% over this same time frame.

The best weekly performance is for Ron Paul's list, with an average loss down to 23.84% from 30.05%. The weighed loss (using the brackets disclosed) improves even more: from -23.71% to -16.35%. Of course we'd rather see gains; the only thing that matters with investing. On RP's shortlist there currently are only two components out of the red.

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Recovering further

Today I have put on line a new update of the Contributor driven Explorer and Junior Miners list. We are further progressing on all of the lists. On our main list, losses are cut to single digits: we are still down 9.38% This week shows nice gains for the recently included juniors (Eric's picks), while also Aurcana recovered further and Medusa mining out of the red again. We have 7 gains against 17 losses with 1 break even.  Nautilus left the selection last week. The stock is being followed up on the quote list of the Valuation Spreadsheet of Canadian Miners (on the other thread). I'm considering dropping Goldrush res. (also on BOG's penny stock selection) for the same reason.

This being said, on BOG's list the average loss is still 31.6%, against 38.6% for the Global X Explorer ETF, GLDX. Ron Paul's buy&hold selection is now still down 19.4% or 11.7% weighed by the brackets disclosed. Both are a considerable improvement over last week.

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No straight line up

With precious metals sliding back, miners had some weak days. On Tuesday HUI/Gold briefly peeped above 0.28, but that says only something on the majors. Juniors and explorers still have some catching up to do... but not all of them will be at the party. Last week, the average performance of our 'contributor driven explorer and junior miner spreadsheet' (link in opening post) is again down to -10.16%. Yet the weighed performance (applying a 'truncated cap weighed' average) is up and we end break-even (+0.06%). Once more junior miners did better than explorers. We still have only 7 gains against 18 losses, yet most gains grew... but, a few pennies went from bad to worse unfortunately. As announced last week, I removed Goldrush res. from the list, as it is also included on BOG's list. Next shuffle will be requalifying some dollar stocks to pennies: Romarco and CB Gold have slided too deep to keep their status...

No improvement on BOG's list either, where the loss increased to 32.4%, yet fortunately the list made a decent recovery last Friday, with Metal Creek and Terraco recovering nicely. On Ron Paul's list, the loss is up to 20.09% again, or 14.02% cap weighed. One sweet spot on this list: there is one more miner out of the red. smiley

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A disappointing week

We may have hoped for the recovery to continue, but in vain.

Last Friday was an double witching option expiry day (quarterly + monthly options for most mining stocks). The usual shenanigans were around again; though these mainly target the majors, juniors faced some 'collateral damage'.

Despite gold firming little over the week (and silver merely), miners didn't rise on the slipstream of mainstream markets.

On our contributor driven explorer and junior miners spreadsheet, we are down 1.16% on Friday, yet weighed that adds up to 3.5% on account of a slide of Aurcana and Romarco towards the close. The average loss is now 12.42% and cap weighed it dips to 3.61% (from break-even last week).

No lucky faces on Bog's penny stock list either, where the average loss adds up to 33.34%. On Ron Paul's Buy&Hold portfolio the damage is 20.03% on average (almost unchanged)  or 13.47% weighed (satisfying the brackets disclosed). Over the week this portfolio managed to uphold.

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When outperforming your peers...

When outperforming your peers... actually means losing less. crying

Our contributor driven junior miner and explorer spreadsheet is once more down over 2% last week. The average loss now  stands at 14.56% (against 12.42%). The aggregate (weighed) loss is at 6.36% (was 3.61%). We saw gains on Argonaut Gold dwindle while Atna Res. and Medusa Mining sank back in the red. Aurcana recovered much of its loss, but that couldn't make up for the slide at large.

Hardly any consolation, yet despite some heavy losses on a couple of the contributed picks, we're still better off than our peers. On BOG's penny stock list the loss aggravates to 38.76% (from 33.34%). On Ron Paul's list the loss is up to 23.89% from 20.03%. Using weights satisfying the original brackets disclosed, the loss adds up to 17.45% (from 13.47%).

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Friday rally doesn't make up for losses

Precious metals seemed unchained yesterday, with gold up over 3% and silver leaping almost 4.5%. Where large-cap miners cautiously followed, juniors and explorers were partying. The daily gain on our contributor driven junior and explorer spreadsheet (link in opening post) is an impressive 3.65%. The Friday rally doesn't make up for losses incurred earlier this week as we are down 16.08% since the start of list (against 14.56% last week). Gains dwindle on Aurcana and Argonaut gold and both CB Gold and Alexis Minerals made another slide. There are 6 components gaining against 18 losses on the list (I don't include the benchmarks).

Less change on the other lists: BOG's penny stock list is down 38.6% (almost unchanged) and Ron Paul's selection is still down 23.7%.

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Failed rally leaves investors empty handed

The precious metals rally on June 29 sparked hope among mining investors. Especially as the trend resumed upwards the first half of last week. Yet broad stock markets turned south again and more importantly precious metals sold off with gold giving back all gains and sliding below $1600. Miner weakness is there again.

On our contributor driven junior and explorer spreadsheet (link in opening post), we hold on to a meager improvement over June 29, with the average loss mitigating to 15.33% (up from a 16.08% loss). CB Gold recovered much of its loss, Aurcana and Argonaut gold add some gains, yet Beaufield Res. made a slide last week (unchanged last Friday). The weighed loss is at 6.21%, proving that our elite junior picks are doing better that the early stage explorer micro-caps and penny stocks. We now have 7 stocks up since inclusion, while 17 are down. The Global-X gold explorer ETF is down 43.14% since the start of recording (Oct 27), even worse than the GDXJ still posting an awful 40.4% loss. GDX is down 24.7%.

On BOG's list the average loss is at 37.92% down from 38.6%, yet Ron Paul's selection now is down 24.57% (up from a 23.7% loss). Majors were hit hard by the precious metal rally faltering.

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Reversal day

The previous update of the "contributor driven explorer and junior miners spreadsheet" is a while back (Quotes of July 6).
No better occasion for an update like today's reversal, with precious metals rallying and miners shrugging off the load of worries. Are we better off now than some weeks ago? No, the despair has been too painful to heal on a single up day. Our list is down 17.34%, a full 2% worse than some weeks ago. There's 4 gains left on the list against 19 losses and 1 break-even. Excellon Resources, Atna Res. and Kirkland gold changed gain for loss. Argonaut Gold and Sandstorm Gold added to their gains, while Brixton Metals, Romarco minerals and Wesdome Gold mitigated losses significantly. The others at best held up well, while some laggards added to their losses. Capitalization weighed, the loss stands at 7.52%, which is 1.31% worse than previous result. If DUST, the 3x leveraged short gold miner ETF still is the best performer among the benchmarks, you get a feel what the situation is like. Despite today's miners rally, DUST is up significantly since last update.

For your information, I've updated also Bag of Gold's penny stock list (quoting a 36.21% loss, slightly better than last time). Xtierra mitigated losses significantly, rallying about 50% from its absolute bottom level. 

Ron Paul's portfolio is quoting a 28.14% loss or 23.67% weighed using the brackets disclosed. Both continue to deteriorate, as losses on large portfolio positions (Goldcorp to name the most important one) continue to aggravate.

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A timid improvement

Last update of the 'contributor driven explorer and junior miner spreadsheet' is four weeks old now, about time to resume with a new update. There are some key changes to the spreadsheet: I will no longer cover Bag of Gold's penny stock list. With Cream Minerals beaten up badly, the penny stock list performance is all but rosy. Coverage of Ron Paul's selection will also be discontinued. The major loss contribution to RP's list is not GBG almost wiped out but rather the poor performance of the heavy weights Goldcorp and Barrick. After simplifying the spreadsheet, the weekly update will be less tedious.

Let us now focus on our miners list: Alexis Minerals Corp proceeded to a reverse 20:1 split and is renamed to QMX Gold corporation (with new ticker QMX.TO); the stock price at inclusion was adapted accordingly. Eventually I decided dropping AXMIN (had that in mind for a while, in vain hoping for a turn around). Draft component Wesdome Gold may also end up in exile.

The average performance of the list is now -11.85%, improved from -17.34%. (Only 1.08% of the improvement is due to dropping AXM). There are now 7 gains against 15 losses with one stock at break-even, which is up three gainers since July 25. Medusa Mining, Atna Res and Tanzanian Royalty Exploration are back into profit. Timmins gold recovered its loss and quotes at break-even.

Any ideas for new explorers or juniors to include on the list?

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That's getting to be a pretty

That's getting to be a pretty short list you got there, Gwyde.

Just off the top of my head, you might want to follow Richmont Mines, San Gold, Lake Shore Gold, Claude Resources, and Impact Silver.   I don't see Aurico Gold on there, or is it too big?

I don't necessarily endorse all these though.  If you are going to attach my name to them, I'd appreciate it if you'd just add San Gold and Aurico, and hold the rest in reserve.

I also like Detour, Osisko, and First Majestic, but maybe they are too big for this list?   Endeavour Silver, Great Panther, and Rubicon.  I like those too.

Not sure what your parameters are here.

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